It seems as if there is a resurgence of interest in the plays of George Bernard Shaw, though when I say resurgence I am referring to having seen three plays of his over the past three years, which is significant because I pretty much haven’t seen any of his plays previously. That probably has a lot to do with not actually knowing about him, or having any appreciation of his work prior to purchasing a copy of Pygmalion and proceeding to read it. The other problem is that the lack of options when it comes to theatre in Australia, but then again it does teach me to keep my eyes open. However, the stage on screen series that are now being played at various cinemas around Australia helps a lot as well. So, when I discovered that Saint Joan was going to be one of the films shown I took the day off work, made my way down to the Palace Brighton Bay, and began to treat myself to another play that I am not expecting to see again any time soon.
I’ve just finished reading a book, Henry V, War Criminal and Other Shakespearian Puzzles, which explores a number of puzzles, and apparent contradictions, in some (or in fact most) of Shakespeare’s plays. I guess when you happen to be this hugely famous author any little mistake, or apparent mistake, is suddenly scrutinised extensively, and debated over by academics of all stripes. Then we have somebody like Shakespeare, who in many cases is viewed as not just one of, but the greatest, writer that the English language has ever produced, and we are speaking of a language that has produced countless numbers of great writers. However while writers such as Charles Dickens can produce a love/hate relationship, Shakespeare seems to be loved by all (except for those high school students who are forced to study his plays).
Apart of me felt that it was a little ironic, with all the furore over Brexit, that this play was being performed by the Royal Shakespeare company around this time. Mind you, unless they had a crystal ball, I have a feeling that it may have been a coincidence that Cymbeline was being staged, though we must remember that Brexit didn’t happen in a vacuum, and there was a huge debate over Britain’s role in the EU and the European community in the lead up not only to the referendum but also the general election of 2015. The thing is that one of the major themes of the play, and it as just as important back when it was first performed as it is now, is the role of Britain in Europe, and how much influence should Europe have over British (or more precisely English) sovereignty.
Well, it seems that within a period of two months I have managed to see Richard II twice, the first was a DVD that I had ordered of the Royal Shakespeare Company production starring David Tennant, and the second one being a production by the Globe Theatre. Actually, I had no idea that the Globe version was going to be showing at one of the local (or not so local as the case may be because it did take an hour and a half, by train, to get from my home to the cinema) cinemas when I watched the DVD a little while back, though as I have mentioned in my previous post (though having a look at the date that it was posted – 5th May – I’d probably be more accurate in suggesting that I watched it quite some time ago), the lack of good plays in Australia means that I am more than willing to make the trek to see another version.
While I have been to a few shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, in my mind it is more of a two-week party than a showcase of theatrical performances that are generally not picked up by the mainstream theatre (or are simply so amateurish that the mainstream won’t touch them). From what I recall of my time in Adelaide the Fringe basically consisted of an opening parade, the Garden of Unearthly Delights which was little more than a number of bars, a Ferris wheel, and tents where you will encounter the weird and wonderful. Mind you, as the Fringe has grown in popularity, so have the number of areas that are attempting to mimic the Garden of Unearthly Delights.
Well, it has been a while since I have posted anything on this blog (okay, I have already posted a couple of things, but that was because I finally had some time to sit down and go over one of the old posts I had sitting there waiting to be published and have finally gotten around to finishing a second one that was partially written while sitting on a plane between Singapore and Frankfurt), but now that I have returned to Australia and have some more free time (namely because I have discovered that when I am travelling the last thing that I really want to do is write blog posts because they can actually be pretty time consuming) to actually go back to publishing stuff on my blog, and what better way to start it off again than to publish a review of a play that I saw in London. Actually, when I’m in London I tend to make a habit of seeing as many plays as possible, though I have to be honest that the whole ‘West-End experience’ is starting to get a bit dry. In a way, it seems that the plays, and musicals, that appear in the major theatres in Theatreland are pretty much the mainstream, but then again having seen Wicked and Les Miserables three times already I’m not in a huge rush to go and see it again.
Back in 1995 I was invited by some friends to go and watch a cinematic production of Richard III at a small art-house theatre in one of Adelaide’s Eastern Suburbs. I had heard of Richard III (the King that is, but then again most of us who have watched Black Adder, or even paid attention to a particular carpark in England, have probably heard of the guy), however I had never actually seen the play. Being Shakespeare I had no problems going, however I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
Honestly, I not even all that sure as to why I’m writing a blog post on this movie – it isn’t as if it was any good. Okay, it is one of those movies that is trying to make a point and forcing people to think about the house of cards that the modern financial world has become, however, I personally don’t think that it succeeds – at all. The thing is that Money Monster is what you would call a ‘Hostage Taker’ movie – some guy bursts into a room and takes everybody hostage, and through the movie the hostages and the hostage-taker begin to develop a close relationship.
Classic Stockholm syndrome stuff.
Director: Sophie Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson
Release: 29 August 2003
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes User Rating: 85%
Normally I don’t go and see all that many, if any, contemporary plays (namely plays that have been written during my life-time), and after seeing Hangmen I realised why – they tend to be quite boring. Okay, I probably shouldn’t bag this particular play too much, however, despite it being English black comedy (which tends to be really good), the play itself didn’t hold my interest all that much. The main reason that I went and saw it (and it was one of the National Theatre Live productions by the way) was that it was advertised at another film/play that I saw recently (As You Like It) and it looked quite interesting (and it also gave me an excuse to get out of the house for a while, since I tend to travel all the way to Brighton to see these film/plays).