julius ceasar, bridge theatre

IMG_20180125_194606.jpgI love a good Shakespeare play. I have seen many, but I do tend to stick to the ones that I know and love. I’m slowly working my way through new ones to me – and I think the last ones for me to tackle are the historical ones, mainly because I am aware that they are going to be harder-going.

At the end of last year I saw for the first time both Titus Andronicus and Antony & Cleopatra, but there are still plenty that I am yet to see.

Bridge Theatre is a brand new purpose built theatre just on the south bank of London Bridge. I have a massive soft spot for Rory Kinnear and almost wet myself when I saw he was starring in the opening productions there – Young Marx. Tickets were booked without a thought, and I was captivated by the new shiny theatre (not to mention by the fantastic play!)

Julius Ceasar is the second production, and a Shakespeare I was unfamiliar with.  And with the amazing David Morrissey in it, I again booked straight away and counted down the months!

As we went to take our seats, I realised that Bridge Theatre has mobile seating – the layout was very different to Young Marx. This was pit-style – and surprisingly, what seemed to be like a mini-festival was going on in the pit itself. In fact a live thrash metal version of Katy Perry’s Firework was ringing out, much to the disdain of a couple of our more elderly seat-neighbours. I’d not even twigged that there were ‘promenade’ tickets available! We later realised that the ‘band’ was made up of some of the actors.

Nicholas Hynter’s contemporary staging, including the promenade audience was fantastic. Different sections appeared and disappeared, stage hands and ‘players’ were within the crowd – swiftly setting up scenes and shouting, heckling and jeering at the main actors.

It worked so well because Julius Ceasar is really about power play and the mob. David Calder swaggered around as Ceasar – commanding the crowd. Ben Wishaw’s Brutus was bookish and considering and David Morrisey as Mark Anthony was strong, loyal and  cunning. However, I was captivated by Adjoa Andoh as Cassius – dry and witty.

It was Shakespeare – brutal but flowery. However, it was also very Hynter – stunning and memorable. I highly recommend!

the school of night, king’s place

 

The School Of Night
The School Of Night

I mentioned quite recently how much I love King’s Place, and especially the improv comedy that we have seen there recently.

A couple of weeks ago we saw the fabulous ‘The School of Night‘.

All I had kind of taken from the listing was that this was going to be ‘improvised Shakespeare’. I know – I kept thinking “How on earth is improvised Shakespeare going to work AND be funny?” – I was tempted to apologise to my mate in advance for dragging him out to something so odd, but I didn’t…we only paid £9.50 after all, and everything’s an experience.

I really needn’t have worried. We were in stitches throughout. This was exceedingly clever comedy. The very first ‘act’ saw the players takng random books from the audience, and getting another audience member to pick a page to start reading from.  The player started reading, and then after a couple of minutes, the book was taken away, and they carried on narrating in the same style. You simply couldn’t tell at which point they had stopped reading and started improvising. Clever stuff!

Our Shakespeare play, formed from suggestions shouted from the audience featured ‘a famous person’, which someone gave, “Scott of the Antartic” and they laughed and said that perhaps the antartic wasn’t very Shakespearian, so could we suggest somewhere else cold and grim. “Sunderland!” was the response. And somewhere he could be? “At a factory!” And what could the factory be making? And this was my moment! I actually had my suggestion woven into an improv comedy. “JAM!!”  And would this be a comedy, historical, a tragedy?  A tragedy decided the audience!

So, King Scott of Sunderland started off in a jam factory and ended up traversing the seas to the Antartic in a tragic Shakespearian tale.

And it was wonderful, it was hilarious, and it was indeed tragic. There were bad omens, ghosts, murder and odd comedic characters that you couldn’t understand what they were going on about, but were ripe with innuendo.  Perfect!

If you have half a brain (or preferably a whole one), make sure you get to see this fabulous troupe – they will not disappoint!  They are playing various festivals and of course the Edinburgh Fringe.  I hope they come back to London soon so I can see them again, and take ALL my friends 🙂

love’s labours lost, greek theatre, e17

Gorgeous costumes!

Last night, I went along to see the Greek Theatre Players perform Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost in the garden of The Girl’s school.

I didn’t even know there was a Greek theatre there!  It’s been there for ages apparently, and they’ve recently refurbished it (along with the rest of the school).  The Greek Theatre Players have performed there since 1958 – just one Shakespeare play a year.

I knew nothing about Love’s Labours Lost – and to be honest, it was rather flowery, and I found parts of it difficult to follow.  Basically (from what I could gather), some scholars who have agreed to study with the King of Navarre, and in agreeing to this, they are also agreeing to regular fasting, isolation and no women.  One of the scholars isn’t quite as keen to give all of this up, and questions it.

Then a heavily-accented (but done very well in this case) Spanish swordsman comes to court, and tries to woo a maid.  Also, the Princess, daughter of the King of France arrives with her ladies-in-waiting, and is denied entrance to the court due to the scholars’ agreement.

The play really is all about battles of wit between the scholars and the Princess and her ladies, with them all eventually falling in love (of course), with a few comical asides.

Shakespeare by twilight

I honestly don’t think this was Shakespeare’s best work – and it went on for ever!

However, I generally enjoyed the experience.  All of the actors were fantastic – there were a couple of standouts (the Spaniard, the Princess, Roseline, Maria, Holofernes and Dull (I think).  The costumes were absolutely fabulous – in fact there was one point where one of the actors came and sat next to me for part of a scene, and I was admiring his longcoat!

The setting was also wonderful, and it really suited the play.  However, the weather has been awful this week (after the recent run of good weather, this was such a shame – I think otherwise there may have been a larger audience than the 45 or so that were there), and halfway into the second half, the rain started getting so heavy that we were moved indoors to The Girl’s school theatre.

Although it was nice and warm and dry (and not really windy, so therefore easier to hear), I was very surprised when I realised just how much the unpropped play lost taken out of what felt like its natural setting!

It lost the 'theatre' in the contemporary setting

It was a great experience, although my dodgy coccyx really, really hates me now.  I will definitely go along to whatever they put on next year – although I hope it’s something a little more accessible

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