production is a series of well-chosen and highly evocative snapshots
of the rollercoaster rags to riches to rags to riches existence of
David Copperfield – with a more than passing nod at its
insights into scenes and patches of narrative give full rein to
Dickens' lyrical sense, and the two actors brought the few characters
they chose to portray into full-on technicolor. I especially liked
Ann Courtney’s 'umble and menacing Uriah Heep who ran a shiver down
my spine. Equally clever was the exchange between Steerforth and his
hapless love-rival Ham Peggotty, engineered to perfection by Stephan
Drury with the assistance of a cane and a necktie.
set was a simple but memorable arrangement of ropes and spars and
worked well to give backgrounds to the many interiors of the
production. And suitably morose music set the mood for the many ups
and downs of the characters.
I wouldn’t want any child to leave the theatre thinking this thing
of glimpses and snatches has given them insight into the rich
kaleidoscope of Copperfield – and even the director recommends they
go home and read the book for the full experience.
would have known and loved local amateur dramatics.
village productions of his plays are rare, thanks to waning
enthusiasm and higher audience expectations.
good to welcome this joint effort, directed by Michael Lewis.
to enjoy, in a version lasting only just over two hours including the
interval, with a choice of customized punches. And
I don't mean just the hiccups and the wardrobe malfunction when a
cummerbund went the way of Thisbe's mantle, to the audible delight of
two ladies in row F.
crew of patches, led by Syd Smith's Quince and Geoff Hadley's Bully
Bottom – nicely dressed as tradesmen – came into their own in the
excruciating rehearsal and the chaotic "show" – Chris
Wright's nervous Flute a particular delight.
Smith and Kenton Church played the testy rivals, their lovers were
Leila Francis, who also assisted the director, and Laura Bennett,
whose characterization – jealous, frustrated, tearful – was
excellent. I liked the way their "weeds of Athens" got more
and more distressed during that eventful night in the woods. Other
stand-outs in a large cast were Daniel Curley's irate Egeus and Jean
Speller's beautifully spoken Titania.
ambitious undertaking, supported by the RSC's Open Stages scheme,
boasted an atmospheric forest, designed by Les Leeds, and some very
young apprentices – playing the fairies, mothered by Sarah Wilson's
Merry Wanderer, but also lanthorn, dog and Philostrate – shared by
cleft-apple twins. The Bard would surely have approved.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW Shakespeare's Globe 26.06,12
Christopher Sly – too often absent altogether in modern productions of the Shrew – is a very forceful presence at the start of Toby Frow’s bold production for the Globe.
Crucially, he links the 21st century crowd of groundlings to the period action of the play, and once he’s convinced he’s a lord, he joins them for the first few scenes, though for reasons amply apparent as the drama unfolds, he does not make a return visit at the end.
The main event is traditional in approach, fresh and fast-paced, with some memorable performances.
In her Globe début, Samantha Spiro makes a compact but frighteningly feisty Kate. She’s perhaps best known for being Barbara Windsor [whose shade is not entirely absent here], but she makes a superb shrew, even if her change of heart, beautifully delivered, is not especially convincing.
Her Petruchio is an amazing tour de force from Simon Paisley Day.
Strength, stillness and silliness combine in a very watchable turn; his wedding apparel has to be seen to be believed.
Among many other joys, Pierce Quigley’s grumpy Grumio, wearily following his master around with a bucket and a pair of coconut shells. Original practices indeed.
Priest's distinctive brand of baroque is perhaps a little too
in-your-face for the staid surrounding of Thaxted's magnificent
church. Tim Kliphuis a year or two back probably as far out as most
would wish to go.
they gave two excellent sets, and some of us at least stood for the
ovation at the end.
by that inimitable magician Piers Adams, they played many of their
greatest hits, including Bach's Third Brandenburg, his Toccata and
Fugue, on a variety of recorders, and an Argentine-influenced
from the Four Seasons, complete with birdsong and a stray dog, on
this unusually fine June evening, a meeting of Zadok and Sheba, and
Tartini's Senti Lo Mare, from their Pirates of the Baroque CD.
course beneath the leather and the bustier are four superb musicians
– Piers amazing fingering, and his way of bending a note, David
Wright's virtuoso harpsichord, Angela East's cello amazing in
Lanzetti, Julia Bishop's versatile fiddle. All very enjoyable – my
only complaint is that, given the visual nature of much of Red
Priest's work, some effort might have been made to light the concert,
especially for the second half.
the show, directed by Wendi Sheard, is an assured, dynamic telling of
this often dark comedy, helped by the atmospheric sylvan setting –
comparable with Regent's Park, I thought – "where God paints
the scenery", as the old song goes. [One bonus is that we can
see background action, almost off-stage.] And immeasurably enhanced
by bold, nuanced performances in the key roles.
Abery is a radiantly smiling Hermione at the start, excellent in the
courtroom, convincing even as the statue, in a gorgeous gown. Her
advocate, Paulina, is beautifully characterized by Lorraine Ely; her
jealous king, Leontes [Simon Drake], who "too much believes his
own suspicions", is resplendent in brown and gold, confident,
and always clearly audible in his soliloquies. And moving, when, a
broken man, he collapses like a child on the rockery steps. His
"brother" Bohemia is a blunt Rob Morley.
young lovers, in the sunnier second half, are Jake Portsmouth,
speaking the verse very persuasively, with Melany Dantes-Mortimer as
his pretty Perdita.
the score or so other characters, mention must be made of Roy Hobson
as the cupbearer Camillo, Morgan Simmonds as the "gallant
child", Nick Lupton as a cheeky wide-boy Autolycus, and Jim
Rimell's entertaining double as a fantastical Father Time, with his
hourglass, and a voluble Steward, surely some kin of Malvolio. The
lighter people – a pair of fleece-clad clownish shepherds – are
cleverly contrasted: David Lintin's rustic father and Solomon Akano's
the time Leontes found the painted statue "warm", we were
so frozen as to be almost past caring, but we sat stoically till the
curtain call, the whole cast, almost outnumbering the audience,
stretched across the Raphael Park rockery, with a witty final nod to
the famous Bear, fatal pursuer of John Lester's Antigonus.
A bank clerk, a Northern waif, beautifully drawn by Catriona Martin
and Kate Copeland, complete the quartet. Theyallpitchin,playingeverythingfromforemantoItalianPOW,andcollaboratingtotellthestoriesofploughing,calving,lambing,milkingandharvesting.Weseethemeagerlyunpacktheiruniforms