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Much Ado At The National


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#21 Jan Brock

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:25 AM

QUOTE(Eve @ Sep 25 2007, 03:04 AM) View Post
TS - The Winters Tale was my first Nick Hytner show and my first Shakespeare at the NT. It was a revelation for me. And I'm thrilled it had something of the same effect for you.

E x


I thought it was a really dismal production, first half passable and the second half awful - any Shakespeare production that includes a middle-aged white man performing a rap is so wrong-headed as to be pathetic. Odd that so many found it innovative, the setting of the sheep-shearing festival at a rock concert a la Glastonbury was novel 30 years ago (Trevor Nunn production) but not now. NH has done several good Shakespeare productions (notably Measure for Measure also with Phil Daniels I seem to recall) but not this one.

#22 Backdrifter

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 12:03 PM

I can understand Jan's opinion of that Winter's Tale but while I too had reservations about the production, I don't share that opinion. I found enough good in it to say I liked it. I thought Jennings made a fine anguished paranoid Leontes and I thought the statue scene was one of the best realisations of that segment - beautiful use of lighting. However, the bear was terrible - like someone had put a scrap of work Bungle's way. Before that I'd seen the RSC Doran/Sher one in which I'd (as is sometimes the case) not liked Sher's overly mannered performance but thought the bear was brilliantly done - actually quite scary, for once. If only that bear had been in the NT one.
Turn up the signal... wipe out the noise

#23 armadillo

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 12:43 PM

Alaex Jennings gave one of the finest Shakespearean performances I've ever seen. And how could anyone (except Jan, obviously) object to Phil Daniels actually making a Shakespearean clown funny? But the bear wasn't a patch on the one in the Propellor Winter's Tale.

#24 Jan Brock

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 01:43 PM

QUOTE(armadillo @ Sep 25 2007, 01:43 PM) View Post
Alaex Jennings gave one of the finest Shakespearean performances I've ever seen. And how could anyone (except Jan, obviously) object to Phil Daniels actually making a Shakespearean clown funny? But the bear wasn't a patch on the one in the Propellor Winter's Tale.


I didn't find him funny at all. I found it a misguided attempt to make the play appeal to teenagers by a middle-aged director trying to appear trendy and missing the mark. I thought Jennings was good (he was better in the same director's Measure for Measure which I mentioned). However, I would say this production was a work of genius compared with the Propellor one which was by far the worst production of this play I have ever seen.

Actually, this particular Shakespeare clown is often funny - Ron Cook was good in the first Adrian Noble production, Joe Melia in the Terry Hands one, you really don't need heavy directorial intervention to make it work (unlike some).  

The bear scene is hard to do - one recalls with disbelief a bloke in a fancy-dress bear costume staggering at a snail's pace across the wide open spaces of the Olivier stage from one side to the other in the Peter Hall production. Best "realistic" bear (rather than the smart-arse symbolic bear as teddy-bear approach favoured by the likes of Propellor) was the RSC Roundhouse production (Matthew Warchus) which I think they may have used again in the promenade Swan production last year (Dominic Cooke).

#25 Theatresquirrel

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 12:01 PM

I love that people do genuinely judge productions of Winter's Tale by the bear.

Of course, it's all about the bear, and not really that much about a man who makes a colossal mistake and the consequences it has on his entire family and his entire life.

Alex Jennings gave, still, one of the best performances I've ever seen

Deborah Findlay was EXTRAORRRRRRDINARILY brilliant

Claire Skinner was utter radiance

Mamillius reciting Sonnet no 12 dressed as death was so captivatingly staged that it made the Olivier seem small

Maybe the Bohemia sequences weren't to your taste but I bet they gave many young people something to really connect themselves to Shakespeare through, and regardless, the Sicilia episodes were lethal, exciting, heartstopping.

I wish we could see it again.

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 12:34 PM

"Of course, it's all about the bear, and not really that much about a man who makes a colossal mistake and the consequences it has on his entire family and his entire life."

Can there be a more pompous squirrel in Britain? I rather enjoyed that production, as it happens, though. Can't, in fact, remember the bear, but I'm sure it was the making of the play for me. smile.gif


#27 Backdrifter

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 12:49 PM

QUOTE(Alexandra @ Sep 27 2007, 01:34 PM) View Post
Can't, in fact, remember the bear

As I said earlier, basically it was Bungle. I'm sure he welcomed the work, it would have given him a break from doing motivational office sessions. And that's true, because he came and did one at a place my partner worked at.

I can imagine Zippy as Leontes, actually.
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#28 Theatresquirrel

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 01:20 PM

Alexandra, you're right. It was totally arrogant and patronising of me to question the huge preoccupation that exists around the smallest non-speaking part in this play.

Shanti.

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 01:32 PM

The bear stage direction in WT is famous, squirrel, as you know. People were just chatting about various bears they'd seen, that's all, and how effectively different productions had dealt with this amusing staging problem. Nothing to get excited about - no-one was suggesting renaming the play Bruno.

laugh.gif Backdrifter.

#30 Jan Brock

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:59 PM

QUOTE(Theatresquirrel @ Sep 27 2007, 01:01 PM) View Post
I love that people do genuinely judge productions of Winter's Tale by the bear.


Which people are those ?

I too can't recall it in the N.Hytner production. It is a famous staging problem and so a fair topic for the inconsequential chit-chat we have here - if we all tried to post finely crafted 500 word all-embracing reviews of the play it would make for some turgid reading. I have seen this play about a dozen times and all productions have had some merit - even in the Propellor one which I disliked the notion of doubling Mamillius and Perdita was striking - it is a play which is better in the performance than on the page.




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