Reviews & features: Shakespeare

17 reviews

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Shakespeare’s Cymbeline

11 Aug 2013

An outing for one of the Bard’s less celebrated scripts

Full marks to FreeRange Productions for bringing one of the bard’s least performed works to the festival, and in an admirably clear and concise stripping-back that focuses with precision on the play’s central themes of jealously and the loss of…

Othello – The Remix

17 Aug 20124 stars

Energetic reimagining of the Moor of Venice

The third of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s highly successful adaptations of the bard – following The Bomb-itty of Errors and Funk It Up About Nothing in recent years – Othello: the Remix reimagines the Moor of Venice as an American rap god, recently…

The Half

6 Aug 20122 stars

Backstage one-man Hamlet is a cliché-ridden indulgence

In his dressing room, an ageing, embittered thesp – divorced and teetering off the wagon – prepares to play his one-man uncut Hamlet. In the half hour before the beginners are called, he unravels and implodes. Why did it have to be Hamlet? Had Richard…

I, Malvolio

22 Aug 20114 stars

Revisiting Shakespeare’s maligned steward

Appearing in the latter half of a Festival that has made its theatre audience work harder than in previous years, Tim Crouch keeps us on the edge of our seats with a show that probes cultural tastes through the figure of Shakespeare’s much maligned…

The Tempest

14 Aug 20115 stars

Anarchic comedy showcases Korean theatrical traditions and retains spirit of the original

Shakespeare’s swansong enjoys a unique status in the playwright’s canon. Part magical realist fantasy, part forerunner to the absurdist tragicomedy, part wry comment on the nature of playwriting itself, The Tempest floats outside of the classifications…

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King Lear

14 Aug 20113 stars

Engaging spectacle gives Shakespeare a Jingju interpretation at 2011 EIF

Two artforms, alike in their lengthy traditions and explorations of familial and martial subjects but divergent in their aesthetic, are brought together by their areas of commonality. Wu Hsing-kuo (Contemporary Legend Theatre) adapts aspects of…

The Curse of Macbeth

8 Aug 20112 stars

Great staging, shame about the acting

From the knife-wielding thugs that welcome you into the venue, it’s clear that this production of Macbeth is going to be bold, brash and in your face. And in those terms the show doesn’t disappoint. Its striking design – all bloodstained mirrors and dry…

Twelfth Night

27 Aug 20103 stars

By my troth, an afternoon delight (if you’ve got the energy)

The small cast composing this year’s C Theatre production are really enjoying themselves. They transport Twelfth Night’s faraway kingdom of Illyria to a sexy 1930s London scene, and complete the look with boater hats, black lace, cigarette holders, and…

Now is the Winter

25 Aug 20102 stars

Confusion abounds

Unless you’re seriously intimate with Shakespeare’s original give this a miss. This one-woman reinterpretation of Richard III retells the story from his ascendancy to the battle of Bosworth through the eyes of a faithful servant. A challenging notion…

Mary & William

14 Aug 20103 stars

Intimate rendition is by turns humorous and poignant

Actress Mary MacDonald Hamill performs a biographical piece woven together with excerpts from Shakespeare which provide a lyrical commentary to the narrative. Following the story of her life and career from childhood, this intimate rendition is by turns…

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Shakespeare the Man From Stratford

12 Aug 20104 stars

Spellbinding mix of thundering speeches and historical storytelling

Simon Callow’s Fringe show is a magnificent three-course banquet of storytelling that will prove irresistible to anyone with a passing interest in Shakespeare. Writer Jonathan Bate builds a biography of the Bard told around extracts from his works…

Just Macbeth!

8 Aug 20104 stars

Slick, accessible and boisterous adaptation of classic tragedy

There are plenty of reasons why Macbeth is not suitable for kids: there’s the cold-blooded murder, the unmitigated violence, not to mention the difficult language. Australian company Bell Shakespeare, however, are experts in these things, and what they…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

6 Aug 2009

There have been some weird and wonderful productions of Shakespeare’s great comedy of fairies, mechanicals and bickering lovers, from the 1934 Hollywood version starring James Cagney as Puck to Peter Brook’s inspired 1971 production for the RSC. But…

Romeo and Juliet

16 Aug 20074 stars

Having finally got over Baz Luhrmann’s version, it feels like we can move on to a new approach to this popular, if flawed, old Shakespearean standby. If Peter Meineck’s version for Aquila doesn’t quite make for a new ‘standard’, it certainly…

Macbeth: Who is That Bloodied Man?

16 Aug 20074 stars

Nicola Husband

Macbeth, like most of Will’s plays, has suffered from many strange interpretations, including a film that transposes the action to a 90s rave and an American theatre version that quite literally strips the characters bare. These wacky interpretations…

I, Lear

16 Aug 20073 stars

Two bumbling actors (Andrew Jones and Ciaran Murtagh) share their wisdom of the theatre, including tricks of the trade such as Marmite up the nostrils for upset and spray cream foaming at the mouth for anger. They teach us techniques from the likes of…

Romeo and Juliet

1 Aug 2007

Festival Fringe

‘Maybe Romeo and Juliet was such an old warhorse we needed to put a bomb under it.’ It’s fighting talk to some, but it’s the kind of statement you’d let through from Peter Meineck, co-founder and joint artistic director of Aquila, one of the USA’s most…