Friday, 5 May 2017

I don't get out much ...

... but when I do, I go to the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) at Stratford-upon-Avon. It's only about half an hour's drive from here and my son and I go to all the Shakespeare plays.

Absolutely every play they put on is brilliant. The acting is wonderful, as is the music, the lighting ... you get the idea. I've particularly enjoyed Paapa Essiedu as Hamlet and Michelle Terry as Beatrice  but there are so many outstanding performances it's hard to choose. 

Last week we went to see Antony and Cleopatra and then we're going to Julius Caesar in a few weeks' time (wrong order, I know). The first Shakespeare play I ever saw was 'Antony and Cleopatra'. I was studying it for A Level and came on a trip up from Hampshire to Stratford to see it. It was 1978 and Glenda Jackson was playing Cleopatra - not a bad introduction to Shakespeare on stage!

If anyone is thinking that Shakespeare sounds like hard work, I recommend going to see one of the plays; they're easy to follow when acted. If you can't get to the theatre, the RSC is bringing out DVDs of their productions. I would recommend the two DVDs of Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won as an excellent starting point. They're dramatic, funny and full of brilliant songs.

The Shakespeare films made by Kenneth Branagh are also really good. There's an excellent Much Ado About Nothing (my favourite play) or how about Love's Labour's Lost staged as a Thirties Musical? A couple of year's ago I was lucky enough to see Kenneth Branagh in The Winter's Tale at The Garrick.  It was wonderful.

I shall leave you with one of my favourite speechs from Much Ado - not Benedick or Beatrice but Don John, railing against his brother whom he is forced to follow after an unsuccessful rebellion.

'I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.'

Act I, Scene III.

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