Sunday, June 28, 2020

Shakespeare alive

I just want to direct your attention to some fabulously good performances of Shakespeare online, both of them from productions at the Bridge Theatre in London. One comedy, one tragedy.

One is this week's National Theatre Live free performance: it gets taken down on Thursday, so watch it now. It's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is in some respects a highly experimental production, and there is one really major plot change which I will not reveal here. In some ways the alteration works and in some it doesn't; but what mostly makes it work is the sheer quality of the acting. Everybody in it is just fabulously good; you should know you're in for a good time from the very beginning with the peerlessly haughty Theseus played by Oliver Chris, the same actor who played Orsino in the Twelfth Night that NTL had on earlier this year. What happens after that ... just watch it.

The Bridge's Julius Caesar is, so far as I know, not online in full. But there's three long scenes from it online, all featuring Ben Whishaw as Brutus. I would not have picked him for this part; I'd be more likely to have cast him as Antony. But he does it stunningly well. Act 2, Scene 1, in which the conspirators meet (cut off just before the end). Act 3, Scene 1, the assassination (abridged at the beginning). Act 4, Scene 3 (with a bit of scene 2 at the beginning), Brutus confronts Cassius and the Ghost of Caesar.

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