Tag Archives: rsc

A Mad World My Masters | English Touring Theatre and RSC

May 2015 | Barbican

The original play written by Thomas Middleton was a satire on London life back when society was very bawdy and at the same time puritan. Creators Sean Foley and Phil Porter re-stage it in 1950s Soho with the notion that this historically unconventional, culturally subversive and morally notorious area was a suitable and not ironically unimaginative setting (and to view the audience with as much dimness as many of the gags in this piece.)

There are two plots to this story, one in which Richard Follywit tries to swindle his uncle’s great wealth and another where Penitent Brothel tries to win sexual access to a married woman with the help of a crafty prostitute. The text has been adapted to apply to a contemporary audience, changing names to sound more familiar and clean up the obscurities of the historical context, although often unnecessarily. For example, Bounteous Progress, the rich snob who wants to gain favour and privilege amongst the political class is renamed ‘Peersucker’ – fair enough, Richard Desmond, (with whom the similarity is obvious) is the owner of numerous Red Top newspapers and a pornography channel and has been funding both Conservatives and UKIP in order to be selected for Peerage. But ‘Shortrod Harebrain’ didn’t need to be renamed ‘Littledick.’ It’s the start of many superfluous changes that underestimate the intelligence of the audience.
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Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 | Royal Shakespeare Company

December 2014 | Barbican Theatre

The RSC with Gregory Doran continue the History Plays series at the Barbican following last years successful Richard II. Henry’s powerful former allies revolt against him in the messy aftermath of Richard’s abdication and murder. It’s the usual affair of armour and chivalry common with the traditional RSC productions popular amongst tourists and regulars but it falls short of the excitement and flair of a realised Shakespeare piece and feels more like the stiff, archaic performance in a static, formulaic manner that feels REALLY long (something which figures like John Barton worked hard to overcome.) This review will attempt to emulate this verily; prepare for nit-picking in a blandly structured essay.
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