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.
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.
One day I was perusing the internet to see what Shakespeare plays were available on DVD. It probably had something to do with having seen a particularly good version of a play at the cinema as a part of the National Theatre Live productions, and I wanted to see if some of them were available for purchase (unfortunately, at this stage, this doesn’t seem to be the case). However my eyes fell upon a production of Richard II by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it starred David Tennant. Most of us are probably familiar with him as Doctor Who, however, I had recently discovered that he had starred alongside Patrick Stewart (of the Star Trek and X-Men fame) in a version of Hamlet. As such, I made it a priority to get my hands on a copy of this DVD.
My original plan was to publish this post on the 23rd of April, which was the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. However, due to slackness on my part (and also my failure to actually do any research into the exact date) that unfortunately has not happened. Anyway, it was fitting that if there is one play that I would write about for the belated 400-year commemoration post it should be King Lear since it is probably my favourite of all Shakesperian plays (at least among the tragedies).
I remember when I first read this play and I was actually rather shocked and appalled. In fact, if there are any of Shakespeare’s plays that are going to rub up against the grain of our modern society then it is certainly going to be this one – the reason being that the whole plot is about how a husband figuratively beats his wife into submission. Sure, his wife is definitely one nasty piece of work, but the thing is, living in a world where more women are killed by their husbands/partners in domestic violence situations than terrorist attacks (at least in developed countries) one wonders why such a play is still staged, and one also wonders why I actually sat down and spent three hours watching it.
I’ve probably mentioned this before but a friend of mine has suggested that the problem with Australian theatre is that it is basically rubbish. Okay, if that is the case then that is a really big problem, but a part of me feels as if I am becoming somewhat influenced by him. My problem is that Australian theatre tries to be so different that it ends up failing as good theatre. Sure, there are probably some good theatre companies, as there are probably some good playwrights, but the more that I am exposed to international theatre through National Theatre Live, the more that I begin to understand what he means by good theatre. In fact, it is probably a good thing that they ended up showing a version of As You Like It because I had recently seen another performance of it (which I have already written a blog post on) and it has given me the opportunity to be able to compare both of them. I have to admit that the version that I saw performed live in Melbourne was actually a little dry, whereas this version seemed to be much more dynamic.
One of the things that I don’t like about seeing plays while I am away is that I don’t always get a chance to sit down and write about them while they are still fresh in my mind. In fact that makes it even more difficult, considering all of the experiences that I’d encounter while wandering around the place means that I inevitably land up with so much in my head that it pushes the experience further back, and it is not until I have returned to my comfort zone (or my writing zone as I should say) am I able to think more about it. Then again, that isn’t going to happen for at least a month, so while I am sitting on the train heading out to the Sunshine Coast, I probably should take the time to actually write about the third play that I saw – Merchant of Venice.
Well, in the space of a couple of days I have gone from one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays to one of his more complex, and detailed plays.… Read more “Chaos in the Forest – A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Well, this year the Bell Shakespeare Company decided to put on a performance of Hamlet, quite possibly because it is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. This sort of baffles me though because Hamlet happens to be one of those plays that school kids have to put up with studying, and we all know the story about books that we are forced to study in school – they are hated.
Well, it seems as if Sir Ian McKellan is in the position where he can simply do what ever he wants, well when it comes to the theatre at least. Apparently the Chichester theatre approached him and asked him if he would like to do a play, and then proceeded to ask him what play he would like to do, considering he is one of those actors that has probably played every role out there. Anyway, he said that he wanted to give King Lear another shot, and fortunately for me, this particular production appeared on the National Theatre Live listing.