Posts Tagged ‘David Newman’

I’m not sure what it is about all-male productions of Shakespeare that makes them special, but they are, and not just because that’s how they were first staged. As well as Propeller, The Globe has given us a trio of gems – Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet & Anthony & Cleopatra – and previous Propeller productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew have all been great fun.

They’ve taken more liberties with this and even though there’s still much to enjoy, I think it’s a few liberties too many. There’s heavy editing (it comes in at two hours playing time), entry and exit music & sound effects, added modern dialogue (including references to Walkers crisps!), lots of slapstick business and a fair share of audience engagement. Somehow, in this one, they seem to be trying too hard. I know it’s farce (was it the first farce?) but it’s still a bit too broad for its own good.

It’s set in Mexico or Spain and the ensemble / chorus are dressed in football shirts and sombreros and play a selection of musical instruments. The Duke is dressed in a bright red satin suit studded with rhinestones and the most extraordinary pair of gold, brown & white shoes. The goldsmith Angelo has more bling than you’d see at a rappers convention and each pair of twins are in identical clothes (and for the Dromio’s, identical wigs). Adriana is a picture in leopardskin everything; Luciana is more restrained but for the pink spectacles. The courtesan has walked straight off the street, as it were, and the Lady Abess’ robe is a mini!

There’s much physical acting, which after almost six months on the road has been honed to absolute precision. The performances are all excellent with Dugald Bruce-Lockheart & Sam Swainsbury well matched as the Antipholus twins, Richard Frame & Jon Trenchard both superb as the Dromio twins and both Robert Hands and David Newman delicious as Adriana and Luciana respectively. The Officer starts offstage as a security guard warning against the use of mobiles and flirting with the ladies and Pinch runs through the audience stark naked, hands over his privates and an additional prop I won’t mention as it would be a spoiler.

You can tell these actors have been together for a while, and together on previous productions; this company really gels and is having a ball. It’s all very infectious, but somehow I think a touch of restraint would have worked in its favour on this occasion. That said, its great fun and if you want to introduce someone to Shakespeare, its perfect. I’d love to see their Richard III but I’m afraid Mr Spacey got in first and I’m not sure I can cope with a pair of Richards.

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