Wednesday 17th August

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Romeo and Juliet © The Globe Theatre

Romeo and Juliet: a violent and visionary adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic love story

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Emma Rice’s final season as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre sees the return of quintessential love story, Romeo and Juliet.  And with typical ambition, Rice has appointed Daniel Kramer – her equivalent at the English National Opera – to deliver as unique a take on the play as Rice herself brought to A Midsummer Night’s Dream last summer.  

Some might consider Kramer’s dark, volatile and confrontational production to be an affront to the play’s traditions.  But, as Sandip Kana writes below for What’s On London, this would underplay the important, visionary and fearless contribution Kramer has managed to make to this all-time classic.

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Category: Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream © Shakespeare's Globe
A Midsummer Night's Dream © Shakespeare's Globe

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Emma Rice lays down the gauntlet for her first production at the Shakespeare Globe

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Emma Rice’s first production as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s The Globe is a heart-punching show, full of energy, eccentricity and magic.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the first production of the new Wonder Season at The Globe.

It’s a play fit for all ages; from your youth when all you want to be is a fairy from a distant magical land, to your adult years where you endeavour across the perilous pitfalls of love, and as age, you will yearn for its maturity.  In her first production, Rice throws down the gauntlet – if this is how she starts, The Globe could not be in safer hands.

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Category: Theatre
The Heresy of Love. The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
The Heresy of Love. The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

The Heresy of Love: A gripping and compelling drama

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This was my first visit to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, and what an experience it was. The Globe Theatre is dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work, and play-writers from his period. The remarkable aspect of the Globe Theatre, is how they have managed to employ the methods and practises of theatre, so commonly associated with the Shakespearean period, and transplanted them so elegantly into modern London.

The Heresy of Love is a gripping drama, and an enthralling watch from beginning to end. Helen Edmundson’s play first premiered at the RSC in Stratford three years ago. Its transfer to the Globe Theatre, three years on, is not a revival which is simply surviving – The Heresy of Love is truly thriving. The story of a seventeenth –century nun may be a hard sell for London theatre-goers, but the story of Sister Juana is remarkable; the production, directed by John Dove, provides a thrilling narrative, in what can only be described as an engrossing evening of pure first-class theatre.

The story revolves around Sister Juana, a truly controversial figure in her day. She’s a great writer, a great poet, and a real beauty –the only problem was that she was a nun in seventeenth-century Mexico. With the arrival of Archbishop Aguiar Y Sejas, there was to be a crackdown on all irreligious activity, and Juana’s literary talent was right at the top of his list. Edmundson’s dialogue is not only commendable, but is remarkable in the manner in which she was able to construct a gripping, emotional and dark drama around the central figure of Juana. Though there are a number of dramas that occur off-stage, such as the ceremonial burning of books by the priests, or the slow descent into madness of her niece Angelica; there is no question that Edmundson was correct in her judgement in making Juana, and her story the central pillar upon which The Heresy of Love unfolds.

Naomi Frederick (right) as Sister Juana and Sophia Nomvete as Juanita (left).

Naomi Frederick (right) as Sister Juana and Sophia Nomvete as Juanita (left).

Naomi Frederick who plays Juana does a stellar job in bringing out the emotion, determination, passion, kindness, fragility and strength of her character. Frederick is a remarkable actress able to naturally imbue her performance with great levels of emotional vigour. Anthony Howell delivers a chilling performance as Bishop Santa Cruz who plays a central role in the downfall of Juana. Gwyneth Keyworth provides wonderful support as the young Angelica, whilst Rhiannon Oliver as Sister Sebastiana is able through her performance to captivate not only our interests but command the stage and its unfolding drama. It was Sophia Nomvete as the wonderful Juanita who injects the production with its much needed dose of humour to combat the tragedies unfolding on-stage.

The Heresy of Love at the Globe Theatre is a gripping and compelling watch; it captivates both heart and mind through its juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy. The Heresy of Love is a fascinating and engaging production. It brings to the forefront one of this centuries greatest problem –religion –and is able to capture the religious rivalries underlying Spain’s occupation of Mexico. The Heresy of Love is unlike any other London theatre production, as this has the real meaning of life at its heart.

Written by Sandip Kana | @sandipkana

Category: Theatre
temple church london

Romeo and Juliet, Performed in the Ancient Temple Church

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Temple Church’s looming pillars form the corners of the stage, while dim light outside illuminates the stain-glass windows. In the shadows cast by the venue’s substantial architecture, Antic Disposition’s cast nimbly circumnavigates the audience to appear on stage. The actors emerge from the shadows into Tom Boucher’s blood red floodlights, establishing the intent to make the tragedy tangible from the word go.

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Category: Theatre
Shakespeare in Love. Noel Coward Theatre.
Shakespeare in Love. Noel Coward Theatre.

Shakespeare in Love: A comedic tale of love, heartbreak and tragedy

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In some ways it’s quite bewildering that Shakespeare in Love has taken so long to arrive in the West End. Sixteen-years have passed since the film adaptation swept the Oscars, and now the theatre production, scripted by the wonderful Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, has arrived in the West End, achieving a glorious, genuine and witty comedy theatrical production. Shakespeare in Love has all the tragedy and emotion associated with William Shakespeare timeless classic, Romeo and Juliet, but this is a production that is far from tragic; it is a thing of beauty, sad, and wonderful, a true masterpiece, depicting the trials and tribulations of the greatest playwright of all time, William Shakespeare.

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Category: Theatre
Othello (Nari Blair-Manget) and Iago (James Alexandrou) in action
Othello (Nari Blair-Manget) and Iago (James Alexandrou) in action

Othello at Leicester Square Theatre

Celebrating the bard’s 450th birthday this year, Grassroots Shakespeare London are currently staging Othello in the intimate Leicester Square Theatre. The basement lounge space is extremely small, making the performance very cozy. Telling the story of Venice’s general, the newly-married Othello (Nari Blair-Mangat) is very much envied by his ‘friend’ Iago (James Alexandrou), a fellow soldier who having been ignored for too long, plots a fateful revenge.

Lead Blair-Mangat comes across as slightly overacting at times, I’m not sure whether this is a Shakespearian thing and not being a regular Shakespeare attendee I wouldn’t want to say for sure. He is either far too softly spoken or way too loud for the tiny room. For me, he was not convincing enough as a leader, and I left wondering why so many people desperately seek approval from him throughout.

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Category: Art
Someday My Prince Will Go
Someday My Prince Will Go: Alexander Shenton and Rosemary Lippard.

The Jack Studio Theatre: The Merchant of Venice

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Taking a scalpel to The Bard; re-staging ‘The Merchant’ as an ensemble piece in a fifty-seat studio theatre? Good idea? Or a worry? With my comfy points-of-reference severed, I confess I’m a little lost. The final scenes removed affect the pagination of the court-room although the literary recapitulation at close is, concededly, clever. The Duke (Tracey Pickup) seems to have undergone gender-realignment if remaining in complete control as do, admirably, the rest of the cast. The classic Shakespearian trick of disguise is re-represented by the macabre clown-mask (a scorching image unfathomably unavailable for publication) or replaced by the confusion of the same actor portraying both the Prince and Bassanio. Initially an inept swarthy heir to a Mafia dynasty, he’s reborn as slightly over-earnest but it suits. Golden boy Alexander Shenton radiates a commendable confidence.

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Category: Culture
Whistlestop theatre

Whistlestop Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Just five minutes walk from Old Street station, I stepped off Pitfield St down the steps into the Courtyard Theatre. Down into a mystical underground world I delved, where I would soon encounter fairies and magic. After a drink in the moodily lit bar, and having read some of the book pages used as wall-paper, I took my seat in the auditorium, while ethereal music played.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is often talked about as Shakespeare’s greatest comedy. It has all the necessary ingredients; love, mistaken identity, magic and the patriarchy inverted. You could say that such an accolade puts pressure on the theatre company performing it, especially a new group like Whistlestop. However, their adaptation of this classic had me at times smiling, regularly chuckling and very often laughing uncontrollably.

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Category: Theatre