Tag Archives: Shakespeare


Now is the winter of our discontent …

The latest offering from Streamed Shakespeare is a most exciting RICHARD 111 directed by Jamie Collette. Direction by Collette is handled with assurance, strength and clarity. It is niftily edited by technical director Charlotte Wiltshire, stage manager Stephen Starnawski, visual designer, Emma Johnston and visual editor, David Castle. The poetry and power of Shakespeare’s words are beautifully handled.

It has been contemporized to a degree but still faithfully follows the complicated manoeuvrings of the Wars of the Roses. As in previous productions much use is made of the split-screen technique for the large cast. Along with wonderful atmospheric images of London the backdrops are mostly of a huge castle and voluminous rooms. Each scene and location is announced in a lugubrious voice over, with an image of a large white rose ( of York) with droplets of blood ( red for Lancaster ).

For the battle of Bosworth there is a large Lancastrian red rose for Richmond (while mostly things are updated in this version the battle of Bosworth itself is fought on horseback in armour with most effective aerial shots. It seems however a bit strange for Richard to wear a Lancastrian red jacket for the battle. Continue reading STREAMED SHAKESPEARE RICHARD 111



Lord what fools these mortals be !

Magnificently directed by Nicholas Hytner and filmed and performed at the Bridge Theatre London, in some ways this is a rather radical re-working of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM , brilliantly done and hugely enjoyed by the live audience and those who catch the screen version.

It is immersive and interactive as those audience members in the ‘pit’ become part of the action and have to move around (yes like the ‘groundlings’ at the Globe).The cast at times interact with and/or enter through/move through the audience . The fairies are spectacular and there are lots of aerial acrobatics . The accompanying score includes Beyoncé and Dizzee Rascal.

While a huge chunk of it is warm and hilarious, there are also darker undertones. There are influences of Atwell’s The Handmaid’s Tale and also the legendary Peter Brook ‘white box’ production.

The chilly, stark , opening scenes are set in Athens with triumphant ,domineering Theseus , ( Oliver Chris) taunting captive Hippolyta (Gwendoline Christie – yes of Game Of Thrones – ) who is trapped in a glass cage.Athens is presented as a sombre, repressive, patriarchal society with the women in austere dresses and headscarves ,the men in black .
All changes ,though , in the mysterious forest , where the inhabitants are glittering and colourful. It is naughty, irreverent sexy and much fun.

The set design has many levels and layers with sections rising up and down .There are plenty of beds, some decorated as if representing a bower.

A major feature of this production is that it turns the ‘traditional’ expectations and presentations on its head – as is usual , the actors portraying Theseus and Hippolyta transform into the fairy queen and king, but here Titania has the lines normally assigned to Oberon while Oberon speaks hers – so it is Titania that is in control of the fairy world and we see Oberon fall in love with Bottom .

Kate Beynon & Her Self Portrait

As Titania , resetting the gender and fairy world dynamics ,Christie is tall, statuesque and commanding in green .She is resplendent and gracious.

Oliver Chris’ Oberon is at times deliciously funny. From a charismatic macho hippie he becomes a jumpy divo.There are enchanting moments of hesitation, doubt and sensitivity. There is warm chemistry and longing between Oberon & Bottom .Chris is perhaps at his most grandiose emerging from the raunchy his- and -his bubble bath with just a few wisps of foam as covering. Later ,when recovered from the drug of the magic flower , he reveals a more thoughtful side.

David Moorst is a remarkable punk, playful somewhat obstreperous high-wire Puck in ripped jeans and top, rainbow armbands and tattoos, who interacts with the audience as freely as with the immortals. As he is suspended from the ceiling, he has flowers between his toes and delivers some of his lines while hanging upside down.

Puck and Titania collude so that the quartet of mortal lovers consider each other, although fleetingly, as possible partners. Our quartet of mortal lovers was tremendously played.As Hermia , Isis Hainsworth is blazing and defiant, rapturously in love with Lysander and determined to marry him , breaking out of her repressive world and father’s control. As Helena, blonde Tessa Bonham Jones desperately loves Demetrius (Paul Adeyefa ) and eventually gives Hermia as good as she gets . Guitar bearing Lysander Kit Young is terrific .By the end of the play their whole world has changed.

Hammed Animashaun is a suitably brash, self confident, bragging Bottom , rather stunned to find himself Oberon’s toy boy. Rather arrogant eagerness is contrasted with reticence.

The Mechanicals are of both genders led by Felicity Montagu as a benevolent Quince and Bottom. In the Pyramus and Thisbe court performance they wear team purple shirts and trackpants and are presented as somewhat naive. They hastily borrow an audience member’s mobile to ascertain whether they will be moonshine on the night of their performance (a calendar! a calendar!) and take an impudent photo.

This production might perhaps startle traditionalists, challenging our expectations , but the audience adored it.

Running time – allow 3& ½ hours including interval

The NT Live screening of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is at selected cinemas from 9 November 2019



BARE THE MUSICAL (Bare: A Pop Opera) debuted at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, California, running from October 2000 to 25 February 2001.

The year is 2000, this thought-provoking rock musical is set within a private Catholic co-ed high school, St Cecilia’s Boarding School. We see the auditions and the rehearsals of the high school’s musical version of Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET.

Secret lovers Peter and Jason, are two gay high school students, and experience their constant romantic struggles with great sensitivity, centred around their identity and sexual preferences. Continue reading BARE THE MUSICAL @ THE DEPOT THEATRE


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Running at just over two hours (including one interval) and with their well chosen, ensemble cast of seventeen actors, SECRET HOUSE has expertly delivered their fast-paced version, plus their well timed tweaks easily delighted the opening night audience.

Stunningly retold by director Sean O’Riordan, this ensemble piece is well worth seeing at least twice during its very limited run at The Depot Theatre. This adaptation of CYMBELINE repeatedly delivers on many levels, a quite brilliant but confronting evening of great entertainment.

Shakespeare’s rarely performed CYMBELINE, is a very dark comedy set in ancient Britain, and contains the dramatic themes of innocence and jealousy.

CYMBELINE has a very convoluted plot, with very familiar characters as found in many of his iconic works. Innogen is the only living heir of the KING CYMBELINE, but has secretly married her sweetheart Posthumus Leonatus, and Posthumus Leonatus is banished from the kingdom without his wife.

Set/Costume Designer Angelika Nieweglowski, has built this unique set by creating solid walls composed of broken wooden pallets, and a further collection of unbroken wooden pallets, that are frequently moved and shifted and stacked to become exactly what is required for each new scene/setting.

Almost every character has been deliberately costumed with torn and tattered fabrics, to my mind indicating a civilisation nearing its end, adding an extra atmosphere that gives almost post-apocalyptic expectations that are later mirrored, in the violent blood and carnage on the battlefield.

Cast included Deborah An, Jane Angharad, Alison Benstead, Alex Brown, Tom Coyne, Morgan Junor-Larwood, Celia Kelly, Dave Kirkham, Ben Scales, Keturah Sheen, Roger Smith, James Smithers, Romney Stanton.

Secret House presented CYMBELINE by William Shakespeare at the Depot Theatre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville between  the 5th and 15th October.




“All that glisters is not gold.”

Following the Company’s compelling production of Hamlet in April this year, Bard on the Beach returns to The Greek Theatre in Marrickville this month with its presentation of The Merchant of Venice.

Supported by the directorial guidance of Patricia Rowling, Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach, this Shakespeare play explores prejudice, human relationships and social boundaries in 16th Century Venice. Continue reading THE MERCHANT OF VENICE @ GREEK THEATRE MARRICKVILLE


Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Australian filmmaker Justin Kerzel’s (Snowtown) MACBETH opens with the funeral of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s child. It’s common for writers to add scenes to Shakespeare that help render their telling unique and develop strands of his work that have yet to be explored.

The decision to include this is a bold move and suggests a particular subtext to the interpretation that will follow. That it never is, through dialogue or performance, is emblematic of an interpretation lacking in direction and depth. Continue reading JUSTIN KERZEL’S MACBETH

Local Actor Makes Good In New York

Hamlet - Twisted Tree
Inset Pic- Luke Edward Smith plays Hamlel in Twisted Tree Theatre Company ‘s production of the Shakespeare classic. Featured Pic- Luke Edward Smith with Michelle Rodriguez from Avatar in the short film Second Act.

Aussie actors continue to make a big impact when they leave our shores. Take Luke Edward Smith, the 30-year-old with the boyish good looks, who is cutting a fine figure on the New York stage with a succession of Shakespeare roles and a number of films in the pipeline.

Roles in Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice are coming up; and the feature film To Tokyo is set for release later this year.

Born in Sydney into a family of aircraft engineers, aviators and mechanics – Luke (improbably!) caught the stage ‘bug’ at high school after auditioning for its production of The KIng and and continued on to tertiary drama school, completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts through the Wesley Institute (now Excelsia) and eventually to New York’s famous Lee Strasberg Institute.    

Continue reading Local Actor Makes Good In New York

Young Winstone

Ray Winstone with his wife Elaine
Ray Winstone and his wife Elaine

Ray Winstone’s cheekily monikered memoir, YOUNG WINSTONE, is a blinder.

A bang up autobiography that is structured more like a cartographer than a star spangled expose of a celebrity, YOUNG WINSTONE charts the first half of this man’s life – he’s 58 in February – in twenty-five chapters each bearing place names as their titles.

Winstone’s sense of place, his East End roots, and the streets and precincts he knocked around in his formative years, inform every sentence in this rollicking yarn of a geezer and his gaff.

Readers have a lot to be grateful for because the book was spurred on by a spurning.

The tossers at the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? rejected Raymond’s family as being too boring. But the research done as a preliminary did enlighten– both branches of Ray’s family came from the East End, traced all the way back to the 1700s, mum’s side from East Ham and dad’s from Hoxton. Continue reading Young Winstone


Author Mark Forsyth
Author Mark Forsyth

If ever there was a cure for writer’s block, Mark Forsyth’s THE ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE comes as close as a cutthroat razor.

As William Shakespeare, writing as Thomas Edison, opined: 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, and Forsyth’s tome certainly takes the sweat out of turning the perfect English phrase.

In a nut sack, THE ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE advocates a return to rhetoric, a renaissance of words wrought right, written or spoken.