Well Met by Moonlight, Pride

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Director: Nicholas Hytner, Br/dge Theatre

Inevitably this is haunted. At one extreme, there is the Max Rheinhart film, with bunny rabbits and nature, at the other is Peter Brook’s circus and trapeze acts, of which little footage survives. Hytner is drawing on the latter, with his ringmaster Puck and Oberon’s attendant fairies dangling from and swinging around sheets. For that matter, Titania has her fair share of hanging around. Continue reading →

Peers vs Piers

Edward II (Directed by Nick Bagnall, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse)

I think this is the third production I’ve seen, although I had lost track of which came first — it was clearly Derek Jarman’s film of Edward II (1991), which is compromised by a compelling performance by Tilda Swinton as the cuckolded and cuckolding Isabella — whom you root for — and the treatment of the (spoiler) traditional execution at the play’s end. Continue reading →

Life is Not a Dream

Martin Sherman, Gently Down the Stream (directed by Sean Mathias, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park)

GentlyForty years ago, Martin Sherman wrote the play Bent, which in its original version starred Ian McKellen (before he publically came out) and Tom Bell and was set in 1930s Berlin as Hitler was strengthening his power. McKellen’s then partner, Sean Mathias, directed a revival and a film version – although I have I suspect a false memory of seeing it on TV. Now Mathias has directed Sherman’s new play, which ranges across the last eighty years. It debuted last year with Harvey Fierstein in the lead, a production I wish I’d seen, directed by Mathias.

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