Billy Shakes – Wonderboy!: weaning onto the bard

Leeds-based company Wrongsemble turn their trademark aesthetic panache to the imagined creative awakening of William Shakespeare, on a pop-up stage in the groundlings pit of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York. The formidable collective of Director Elvi Piper, Designer Antony Jones, Musical Director Rosie Fox and Costumier Julie Ashworth makes for another rich, eye-catching set piece and, for the most part, the story holds the attention of their dutiful audience of very mixed ages, who have ventured out despite the ominously changeable weather. Continue reading

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare® – Macbeth: classics for the disenfranchised

Sh!tfaced Shakespeare is exactly as billed; classically trained actors performing a serious Shakespeare play, while one of them is seriously drunk. “With one cast member selected at random and given four hours to drink before every show, we present to you classical theatre as it was always meant to be seen.” With a firm belief in making the Bard accessible again after centuries of dry, stiff performances, Magnificent Bastard Productions proudly delight in resurrecting the hen-night-stag-do chaos inherent in some of the plays’ dirtier passages. Continue reading

Impromptu Shakespeare: or, What You Will [throw into the bard’s britches]

Jennifer Jordan, Charlie Sturgeon and Jules Munns burst onto the John Cooper Studio stage in stock Elizabethan breeches, shirts and silly moustaches following an epic, Hollywood-planetarium style opening voiceover documenting Dustin Hoffman’s frustration with Shakespeare’s words; namely, “‘You can’t improvise this s***’… This one’s for you, Dustin.” Continue reading

Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre: clowns in love

If Hamlet is the prince of the domestic Scandi thriller, Twelfth Night is the king and queen of the upper-class rom-com. Finishing off Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre press run with a bang, the Gala night performance of this classic comedy of mistaken identities plays to a house full of bodies, beer and hormones. Following a heartfelt speech about the project in its entirety from originator James Cundall MBE, the evening sets off on its raucous voyage. Continue reading

Henry V at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre: we happy few

Directed by Gemma Fairlie (New Vic, Circomedia, Lyric Hammersmith) and starring Maggie Bain (Black Mirror, The End of the F*****g World), the third press performance at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre is famous history play Henry V. Fairlie quotes of Jonathan Bate in her director’s note: “national identity is shaped by defining moments, usually involving bloodshed.” And it is our complicated relationship to patriotism that defines this simple, potent retelling. Continue reading

The Tempest at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre: Do you love me, master?

Directed by Philip Franks (The Darling Buds of May), The Tempest at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre is a bright, blustery pageant in which playful spectacle is winds ahead of the meandering story. Surrounding the incredibly dark and uncomfortable anti-hero of the abusive slave-master Prospero (played surprisingly by the soft-eyed Sam Callis) is a flurry of soft-dappled light affecting romantic underwater magic, (designed by Paul Pyant) and rousing punk folk music that Gogol Bordello would enjoy (composition by Christopher Madin). Completed with colourful costume by Adrian Linford and movement direction by Simeon John-Wake, the production serves as a showcase for its delightfully talented ensemble cast. Continue reading

Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre: One may smile, and smile, and be a villain

We all know this solemn tale of revenge guest starring the skull of “Poor Yorick” back to front, right? And yet somehow, the production team behind Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre manage to bring fresh mischief and flair to the most quoted and studied play ever written. It’s so easy to misread Hamlet as a dry, drawn tale of woe and dwelling, to stuff these clever “words, words, words” into a dusty artefact in your mind’s eye and leave them there for academics to fuss over. But that would be doing yourself, and the play, a great disservice. Continue reading

Ian McKellen On Stage: Because You Would Like It

Defying the wealth of classics quoted and recreated with unearthly perfection upon York’s Grand Opera House stage, words cannot serve what it is to be in the company of Sir Ian McKellen. Opening with a casual reading from Lord of the Rings, he scoops up the full house into a warm embrace immediately, establishing the tone for the evening’s loving, playful ode to theatre. Continue reading

A Midsummer Night’s Mischief: mischief managed

Warming the hearts of children and adults alike, Hoglets Theatre is back with a summer smash hit that brings all the magic of William Shakespeare to life for all the family. Just skimming the back end of the recent York International Shakespeare Festival 2019, this cheeky remix of A Midsummer Night’s Dream provides the perfect half-term entertainment. Continue reading

THE SACRED KING: short film review

Richard II and the city of York have a tumultuous history. The transient king gave the city its most significant royal charter, promoting it to the status of a county in its own right: ‘the county of the city of York’, among other fresh freedoms and privileges he bestowed upon the city. He created the title of Duke of York, first given to his uncle. How much the more tragic, then, that Richard should meet his end confined in a cell at Pontefract Castle, his death shrouded in mystery and dishonour by the neglect of the centuries since. Continue reading