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I have been to see Shakespeare at the Globe – or otherwise in the theatre – a few times. I am at times sceptical because, in the grand scheme of things, I prefer to read plays rather than watch them. I am even more divided about Shakespeare on TV or film, though.
I found the DiCaprio/Danes Romeo + Juliet cloying and tiresome. I wanted to love the David Tennant/Patrick Stewart Hamlet, but just didn’t. I did enjoy the Anthony Hopkins Titus and the Ian Holm King Lear, but I fear this may have had more to do with the absolutely fantastic grad student who ran a weekly film screening as part of one of my Shakespeare courses at uni.
I am going to have a go with PBS’ Ian McKellen King Lear, however. I haven’t quite found the time for it yet, but I am planning to! I’ll recommend it on the off-chance, anyway. Let me know what you think!
So, a few days ago I went to see Twelfth Night at the Globe. They have on a really stunning production with an all-star cast, and I highly recommend that everyone (whether they know the play or not) go and see it. There aren’t many tickets left at The Globe, but they’re heading to the West End in the new future, and they’ve also filmed a performance for cinema screenings, so there are still plenty of opportunities to see it!
Liam Brennan (Orsino) and Johnny Flynn (Viola/Cesario) were absolutely wonderful together. The play was tongue-in-cheek in all of the best places, and I love that in a performance when it’s done properly (Samuel Barnett has a wonderfully wry expression that’s perfect for it). Peter Hamilton Dyer was a great Feste, giving us a wonderful and knowing fool, and Stephen Fry was, of course, a magnificent Malvolio. Typically – this may be heretical… – I prefer to read most drama rather than watch it, Shakespeare included. Even the big TV productions of Hamlet with David Tennant and Patrick Stuart (both of whom I love), or other Globe productions (I saw Much Ado About Nothing not too long ago), don’t tend to do it for me. I am simply a very text-based person and I like thinking about language rather than speech. I loved this play, though.
Bizarrely, the one note that rang a bit hollow for me was Mark Rylance’s Olivia (bizarre because he is a fantastic – and fantastically well-respected – Shakespearean actor). In the first scene he was excellent at portraying her prideful self-involvement, but there was no softening afterwards, and it became shriller and rather more hysterical as the play went on. I have never really read Olivia in that way – I have always thought that she was flawed, but had more positive character development than that.
Nevertheless, he is very funny with it, so do go if you can!