Memories of Stratford
Posted 09 March 2007 - 05:15 PM
Posted 09 March 2007 - 10:05 PM
The first visit I made to Stratford in the summer of 1960 was also the occasion of one of the most memorable of productions - Twelfth Night with Max Adrian and Dorothy Tutin. It had a kind of melancholy beauty that remains imperishable, as does the 1981 All's Well with Peggy Ashcroft. Other highlights include Tourneur's Revenger's Tragedy with the late lamented Ian Richardson and Alan Howard. Alan Howard also producted a series of dazzling performances - Henry V (1975) and - above all - Coriolanus in 1977. Vanessa Redgrave in As You Like It (1961) and Cymbeline (1962) with Eric Porter as a wonderfully scheming Iachimo were also very special. Other highlights at random - Anton Lesser as Troilus, Kenneth Branagh as Henry V, Brewster Mason as Othello, Anthony Sher as Richard III, Jeremy Irons as Richard II, the 'Brideshead' Love's Labour's Lost, and Michael Pennington as Timon of Athens.
Much vaunted productions I never bought into were the Peter Brook Midsummer Night's Dream or his King Lear with Scofield. They rang no bells for me.
As with others above I have never seen a decent Macbeth in the main house, or for that matter Hamlet.
The golden turkey for worst production is undoubtedly the Romeo and Juliet of last year.
Posted 10 March 2007 - 12:21 AM
Posted 10 March 2007 - 02:54 AM
Hmm. Shows my age, but here goes:
Mid-1950s: Olivier in Twelfth Night, Coriolanus and Titus Andronicus. Okay, so his style is as out of fashion now as Wolfit's or Beerbohm Tree's, but at the height of his powers his stage presence was phenomenal - I've never seen anyone else with such physicality (sorry, can't think of a better word). He could command an utter stillness in the audience - and then break the mood with the smallest gesture, the slightest change of intonation. I remember him at the end of Twelfth Night, as Malvolio, climbing out of his underground prison - for a moment everyone held their breath expecting an outburst of titanic rage and then he simply...sneezed and shook the dust off himself. It brought the house down, but even as you laughed you felt slightly ashamed - just as he had intended you should. In that moment he'd become a figure of pathos and his "Madam, you have done me wrong, Notorious wrong." broke your heart. His other strength was his willingness to take a risk - launching himself off the rock in Coriolanus was the most obvious, but in almost everything he did there was a thrilling sense of danger.
Tyrone Guthrie's comic opera production of All's Well in modern[ish] dress. Great fun! ca 1959?
Lear with Robert Stephens and a brilliant Fool whose name I unforgivably have forgotten.
Sher in Richard III - some of the same technical virtuosity and sense of unpredictable danger as you got from Olivier.
Lear with Charles Laughton and Othello with Paul Robeson. 'Low' is perhaps a bit unkind, both were fascinating but somehow hugely disappointing.
Personal low: being attacked by a swan in a canoe while drifting down the Avon in romantic mood. And yes, I do mean the swan was in a canoe. Unfortunately it was the same one I was in.
Posted 10 March 2007 - 10:50 AM
One comment: the recent Rupert Goold "Tempest" is the finest debut production I have ever seen on an RSC main stage - and it is a prosecnium arch production which would not work at all on a thrust stage. So much for the RSC's justification for the redesign, that directors can't or don't want to work on the STratford main stage.
Posted 10 March 2007 - 11:00 AM
Nothing in last 20 years worth mentioning? Not so - Michael Pennington in Timon, replacing an indisposed Alan Bates, was quite recent; Anthony Sher's Richard III also was 'within living memory'.
There were also two very different, but memorable Merry Wives of Windsor (no, NOT the recent musical farrago, least said, soonest mended etc) - the production set in the 1950s 'Never Had It So Good' era with the Merry Wives reading Falstaff's letters under the hair driers, and the 1996 Leslie Phillips one with a magical final tableaux under Herne's Oak.
Posted 10 March 2007 - 05:01 PM
Well, we do seem to have rocked the old uns' boats with this thread, lovely. There's nothing wrong with a bit of proscenium, Jan, I agree but hardly anything came up to the mark in recent years there.
Maria..avoid Birmingham. You can go to Stratford on the train from London. If you only have a three days, was it, then don't bother - do London. Save Stratford for a summer weekend when you can sit outside in the Dirty Duck pub near the theatre, picnic [ food from M&S ] on the green beside the river [ dodging the footballs of our dear British young men] and queue for King Lear. The Courtyard theatre is very big and there will be tickets last minute if you persevere. And you can get standing at the Swan. I've never not got a ticket - excuse my poor English!
Posted 11 March 2007 - 01:14 AM
... and began looking for a room @_@ any advice there? nice and cheap place in Stratford?
sorry for bothering everyone with this, I'm used to go to London, but Stratford is new
For a good selection of B&Bs in Stratford, with information on prices and locations, go here:
It's a great place to spend a day or two just taking in the sights, in addition to whatever play you want to see.
Posted 23 March 2007 - 08:14 PM
Im definitely going, I will actually meet a friend over there so it's gonna be nice!
The thing is, there are no good tickets left for June 7, and I called the box office to ask them about it. The girl told me they always had extra tickets every week because of cancelling and so, but I'm definitely counting on luck right now. Of course, there are still gallery tickets available, and from what I saw on the pictures, its not that bad(not as bad as in a big West End theater). But I'd rather avoid the gallery... Did anyone see a show from there? Did any of you actually manage to have ticket after some times, even when there was none available at first?
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