Friday, June 29, 2012

Richard III at the RSC!

When I think of Shakespeare's Richard III, I think of darkness, manipulation, murder, and deceit; Roxana Silbert's RSC production delivers all these. Jonjo O'Neill provides an engaging Richard, both the powerful and humorous in his depiction of Shakespeare's hunchback king. His humor is chilling and his command of the language renders is colloquial, easily understood and delivered. He smiles in the face of his own villainy, a daring choice which has created mixed reviews. However, I am inclined to accept and embrace this choice, because it allows to audience to participate more wholly in the action. We are able to feel the fun and excitment that Richard feels, while the voiceover plays in the back of our minds, "This is wrong. This is horrible. This is madness."

Pippa Nixon as Lady Ann, in contrast to her amazing performances this season in Cardenio and King John, appears masculine, stiff, and uninspiring. Paola Dionisotti as Queen Margaret and Siobhan Redmond as Elizabeth stand out as the strongest female leads this season. Dionisotti in particular gives a rather youthful bodied Margaret, spritly and battle ready - another bold choice that works well against the modern military backdrop of the play.

Read more reviews at:
The Gaurdian
The Stage
Year of Shakespeare

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Alan Cumming's Macbeth

Tonight I had the privilege to see Alan Cumming in his one (well-almost one) man Macbeth at the National Theatre in Glasgow.  The Tramway was packed tonight and full of the heat of excitement. So much so, that a woman fainting during the performance and had to be ushered out the the theatre.

Cummings harrowing interpretation of Macbeth stems from a madman mentality, as he negotiates the setting of a dilapidated mental asylum. Co-directed by John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, this is Macbeth done in solitary confinement. Two mostly silent actors (Ali Craig and Myra McFadyen) find thier way onto the stage as hospital orderlies, caring for their patient and leaving Cumming to play every major role in Shakespeare's tragedy. Cumming plays a character beyond the text, allowing Shakespeare’s character to inhabit his mind and body. Devlivering striking vulnerability, Cumming plays each character distinctly in what must be an exhausting performance.

Cumming certainly gave an award winning performance. I wouldn't be surprised if he were nominated for multiple awards this season.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Julius Caesar at the RSC!

The Royal Shakespeare Company's new production of Julius Caesar, directed by Gregory Doran, opens against the desert landscape of modern Africa. I am pleased that the RSC took the chance to showcase the amazing African-British talent available in this country, even employing amateurs for the crowd scenes.

Like Africa, Shakespeare's Rome is no stranger to outrageous dictators and power struggles. Doran's imagined setting brings modern context to ethical debate of political murder in today's world. The play, which can often be slow going in parts, had new-found urgency in this production - keeping the action moving throughout the performance.

Paterson Joseph's Brutus was fresh and idealistic - the perfect combination for a serious political blunderer. Cyril Nri's Antony was a bit one-note, passionate and loud, but with no real depth of character. Adjoa Andoh and Ann Ogbomo, as Portia and Calpurnia gave stunningly beautiful performances and are certainly two of the best female actresses at the RSC this season.

Overall, a great night at the theatre!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Frankenstein: Who is the monster?

I just saw an encore screening of the National Theatre's 2011 production of Frankenstein, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Victor. Even though it was on film, I was completely mesmerized. The physical stamina Cumberbatch possesses is extraordinary - but his inner emotional presence is beyond. I wish I could have seen the two men switch roles, as they did each night during the production. It would be interesting to see Miller as the creature and Cumberbatch as Victor. Perhaps one day I will get the chance.

I am Featured on the SI Website

Much to my dismay, my face has made an appearance on the Shakespeare Institute website. I must have been really concentrating, or really worried about something... Not very flattering...

For the live wesite, visit the Research page.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mom and Dad Visit the UK!

I just got back from a lovely 2 week trip touring various highlights of England and Scotland with my parents. We have not seen each other in 6 months which made the reunion all the more memorable. We are exhausted from running all over the countryside and took many pictures to remember the occasion (1,500+ to be more precise). Of course, I will just share a few with you below.

STRATFORD UPON AVON: During my parents visit, the weather miraculously turned to sunshine. I attributed this change to my folks bringing a piece of California with them to England. I informed my parents immediately that England is not normally so hot (Yes, it was HOT!) and to enjoy it while it lasted.

Day 1: I whisked my parents around Stratford-upon-Avon the moment they arrived in town. Before jet lag could set in, we visited the Shakespeare Institute and my flat on Birmingham Road. Then we had dinner at the Old Thatched Tavern and saw Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Day 2: We visited the closeted of the 5 Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Houses (Hall's Croft, Nash's House/New Place, Birthplace) along with Holy Trinity Church to pay homage to William Shakespeare. We then had a delightful, but hot, afternoon at the Butterfly Farm, exploring the gardens and walking along the river. We ended the evening with a meal at the Garrik Inn and King John at the RSC.

Day 3: We spend the morning at Kenilworth Castle and the afternoon at Warwick Castle.

Day 4: We walked to Ann Hathaway's Cottage and traveled by train to Mary Arden's Farm.

Below is a picture of the Shakespeare Institute Gardens, my parents at Nash's House / New Place,  Anne Hathaway's Cottage, and the entire family at Warwick Castle.

Day 5: We took on our biggest adventure yet! - We rented a car!!! Dad was a really good driver, despite all the help he got from the passenger seats. We drove to Bath and spent the day exploring the city.

Day 6: We began at the Cathedral in Salisbury, then on to Stonehenge and Avebury.

Day 7: Cambridge was sunny and delightful - Too bad the universities were unexpectedly closed for exams. We managed to sneak a peek at King's College Chapel and took a punting tour on the Cams.

SCOTLAND: We spent 3 nights in Edinburgh. Although the main event was a trip to the countryside. As you can see, Scotland showed us true UK weather.

Day 8: We traveled to Scotland by plane. Exhaustion finally hit us, so we spent the evening talking over dinner and relaxing at the hotel.

Day 9: We went to Edinburgh Castle!

Day 10: We went on a bus tour with Rabbies to Birnam forest, Pitlochry, the Queen's View and the splendour of Loch Tay, followed by a whiskey tasting at Dewars. Yum!

Day 11: Back in Stratford, we pack up up our belongings and had dinner with our new friend Barbara.

LONDON: London was all abuzz with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. We didn't plan to attend the party, but we sure did! We walked our feet off and ate enough meat pie and mash to sink a ship. Below are the highlights: Covent Garden, Albert's Memorial, and my parents on the Thames.

Day 12: We took a train to London and wandered around Kensington Palace.

Day 13: The British Museum had a lot to offer. We also made a trip to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar square to check out the Jubilee.

Day 14: The Tower of London kept us occupied for most of the day. Then we were off to the Globe for a tour!

Day 15: More walking around the city, trying to stay clear of the Jubilee crowd. Covent Garden turned out to be a nice place to have lunch and see some live entertainment. Mom finally got to shop!

Day 16: We parted ways at Paddington Station. My parents flew safely home to California and I stayed behind to finish my dissertation. It has always been my dream to share London with my parents, and despite all the craziness caused by the Jubilee, my dream finally came true.