The Complete works of Shakespeare ‘abridged’

The Complete works of Shakespeare, abridged –ย watched on Friday 17th June at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City

You guys have read so much about my latest theatrical adventures lately, and the huge celebrations that have been happening throughout the world. Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary of his death has been a great year of thespian commemorations, and has seen the revival of many shows and many young touring companies taking on challenging works to pay ode to the prolific playwright.

Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield under the direction of Darren Barsby, beautifully presented the Bard’s 37 plays in 97 minutes, talking those versed on Shakespeare and those who need a bit more help to understand through his majestic romances, his incredibly painful tragedies and his brilliant comedies.

They weave the high-paced, wickedly funny stories together in one nonsensical explanation and collage of Shakespeare’s works, which strangely might feel as though they stop and start a lot, however to me it felt as if it all made perfect sense and was exactly set out to be played as such.

Shakespeare known for writing on various topics, was broken down into segments, and it was almost like peering into the phases of his life. His romances, tragedies, comedies and histories, all came at distinct times, and this play lead me to understand that division and how similar it is to stages of life. Shakespeare, a true author of life and life’s adventures.

I loved the play, I loved being able to experience all of Shakespeare in just 97 minutes, and I love the sketch type performance that we saw which broke the Bard’s works up into sections. I think that this satirical, sarcastic, analytical and even slap-stick mix of comedy brings out the best in audience participation and engagement.

It was a complete pleasure to watch it and take my darling mother to accompany me. If it comes back around I would definitely recommend you watch it, and it was definitely the cherry on top of the cake for me as the final play I will see this year in celebration of the Bard’s 400th death anniversary.

Happy reading and theatrical visits.

Shakespeare Live

Seen on Saturday 23rd of April

This is a late one but a goodie! Does everyone know that it is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April? More specifically 450 years? Shakespeare is all the talk of the theatre world this year in England and I love it. A true icon of British Theatre and a worldclass playwright, his works are being celebrated all over the world.

So it was a great pleasure to watch Shakespeare live. The performance actually took place in Stratford Upon Avon, the home town of our glorious playwright himself, and was being live streamed to cinemas all over the country. My friends and I gathered at an Odeon in Covent Garden to watch the show and it was truly mesmerising.

From Prince Charles to Sir Ian McKellan, Dame Helen Miren and Dame Judy Dench, the Royal Shakespeare company, ballet companies and several interpretations of his texts were performed and left the audience in true wonderment. I loved all the extracts used, and was deeply moved by some of them. I think Bill Murray and Dame Judy Dench stole the show with their Midsummer Night’s Dream extract. The entire company were there just due to their love for the theatre and the show could not have paid a better ode to the world’s most famous playwright.

I was completely taken. The nearly 3 hours we spent inside the cinema room flew by and it was truly worth it. I have another two shows that I am watching in dedication to Shakespeare’s 450 years anniversary celebration and am truly excited to share my experiences with you.

Are any of you doing anything special to celebrate the occasion?

Chess: in concert #TheatreReview

Thursday 14th of April 2016, I had the pleasure of watching Chess, in concert, a production by my favourite – I am very biased! – Amateur Dramatics Group, The Hitchin Thespians

Chessย is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from Abba and lyrics by Tim Rice, which is set in the cold war era and comments on the political status of USA and Russia during that time through the parallel of a chess tournament. Historically the musical was a huge success in the West End where it played for 3 years, opening on 1986. No major attempts at reviving the musical have been made, but it continues to be one of the most relevant musical placing 7th in BBC Radio 2’s “Number One Essential Musicals” list, demonstrating its strength as a piece.

The Thespians, an operatic amateur dramatics society that has been around for over 100 years and decided to tackle this incredible piece but in a concert version. I loved every second but have to be analytical of a few things that theatrically did not work.

The space at Woodside hall where the thespians perform is rectangular, usually the stage is located at one of the narrower ends of the stage but this time they decided to go for a long stage and long seating. This allowed them to add the members of choir either side of the central stage. However, this caused a huge unbalance in the sound where audiences on either side could only really hear the choir directly infront of them. Audience members sat in the central area were welcomed with a fantastic wall of sound however.

Performances were excellent from the main cast, as usual the pool of talent in the society oozes and they never cease to impress. The band again was incredible, giving the sound of a full orchestra and musical band with just two pianos and a drum set. Overall for an amateur production, with limited space and flexibility they tackled their issues head on and tried to make it work as best as possible. Still a completely enjoyable performance and I think that for any growing theatre producer, actor, practitioner, director etc it is important to see as many productions that can show you the type of challenges that you can encounter. However, it is s much fun to come up with alternatives to make it work. So if you don’t come and watch the Hitchin Thespians, go watch your own local theatre group, to watch some incredible untapped talent and to learn more about the basics of the beautiful thing that is theatre and live performance.