Tag Archives: Michael Fentiman

Stroppy bearded Kate – Taming of the Shrew for Shakespeare beginners

Forbes Masson (Katherine)

Forbes Masson (Katherine)

Bearded beauties in Elizabethan dresses and
bosomed machos in business suits, two youngsters with what you’d call challenging behaviour finding love at last –

Katy Stephens (Petruchio)

Katy Stephens (Petruchio)

that’s how
children aged 8-13 around the country can experience their first encounter with Shakespeare.

 

 

Director Michael Fentiman’s team develop fireworks of slapstick around Shakespeare’s banter whilst
unfolding the storyline in a way that their young
audience has no problems following, even if they “couldn’t get all the words”, as a young boy put it in the post-show workshop. “I completely forgot that they were wearing the wrong clothes”, that’s what really amazed one of the girls.

Forbes Masson is a fierce and at the same time touching Katherine, a lost soul of the kind you’ll find in many a classroom.
Katy Stephens gives her Petruchio the impetuosity of male adolescence, mixed with lingering grief.

Anjana Vasan (Tranio) and Chris Jared (Bianca)

Anjana Vasan (Tranio) and Chris Jared (Bianca)

Chris Jared is a really sweet Bianca and Baptista here turns out as an exhausted matriarch, gracefully played by David Fielder.

David Fielder (Baptista)

David Fielder (Baptista)

Enchanting: Anjana Vasan as Traiano and Mimi Ndwina as Lucentio, their facetious interaction is a sheer joy to watch. Quite lordly, Ann Penfold as Gremio and  well done Caroline Faber (poor Hortensio).

Anjana Vasan (Tranio)

Anjana Vasan (Tranio)

As a first introduction to the Bard, this abridged version of the play has a lovely teaser effect and quite clearly conveys the message: “There’s lots of fun to be had with Shakespeare.”

http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/first-encounter-taming-of-the-shrew/

after Stratford-upon-Avon next in Canterbury, Bradford, Blackpool, Leicester and Newcastle-under-Lyme

Photos by Simon Annand / RSC

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Titus Andronicus – breathtaking stage horror

“Titus Andronicus“ RSC production at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Stephen Boxer (Titus Andronicus) and Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

Stephen Boxer (Titus Andronicus) and Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

War, revenge, bloody hatred, mutilations, rape, murder – Shakespeare dug deep into the trickbox of human chasms. General Titus Andronicus returns home to Rome from his war against the Goths, bringing with him, as prisoners: Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her black lover Aaron and her three sons. According to tradition, Tamora‘s eldest son is sacrificed to the Gods, despite her pleas. She vows to take revenge…

Katy Stephens (Tamora)

Katy Stephens (Tamora)

Titus Andronicus, played by Stephen Boxer in the full depth of male disorientation between rigour and doubt, supports Saturninus (droll, John Hopkins) in his candidacy to be the next Emperor, also promising him his daughter Lavinia for wife. Lavinia (Rose Reynolds), however, is already secretly engaged to Bassianus (Richard Goulding), the new Emperor’s brother, whom she runs off with. Saturninus now makes Tamora his Empress. Katy Stephens, as Tamora, plays with the audience’s perception as seductively as with the Emperor’s. She instigates her two sons Chiron and Demetrius (Jonny Weldon and Perry Millward as nasty Beavis and Butt-Head characters) to murder Bassianus and to rape and mutilate Lavinia. All of that happens off-stage, but it leads to the scene that is the most difficult to bear, when Lavinia reappears, abused, without hands, without tongue. Rose Reynolds turns her body into a documentation that perhaps hits even deeper than images on the news, those from real-life atrocities.

Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

Rose Reynolds (Lavinia)

Aaron (very subtle, Kevin Harvey, seen all the verbal abuse he is constantly subjected to, you nearly want to forgive his evil-mindedness) accuses two of Titus Andronicus’s sons of having murdered Bassianus, and he offers Titus the Emperor’s lenience in return for him hacking off his arm. From here onwards, the atmosphere turns from startled horror to expeditions into the world of splatter movies, accompanied by fits of nervous laughter from the audience. The hacked-off arm doesn’t help; Titus has a delivery of his son’s heads. There is one son remaining, he sends him to the Goths, to raise an army against Rome. The circle of revenge finds its last climax at a banquet, when Titus Andronicus serves Tamora her killed and minced sons in a pasty. A cartoon-like bloodlust finale only leaves Titus‘s son Lucius and grandson Lucius junior alive. As one member of the audience said after the show: “If it teaches you nothing else, revenge is probably not such a good idea.” Clip

Matthew Needham (Lucius),Kevin Harvey (Aaron)

Matthew Needham (Lucius),Kevin Harvey (Aaron)

It is one of Shakespeare’s very early plays, and it is not put on stage very often. For our modern minds, all that bloodshed is more difficult to bear than for audiences in the 16th century. Very nasty indeed, it would be, if the elements of comedy were overlooked in all that horror. Director Michael Fentiman, in his RSC debut, created a clever and breathtaking arc between things that we should take in and those that we can take in. Together with his fantastic cast, he puts the audience in a roller coaster atmosphere in which, admittedly, it can happen that someone gets rather pale.

Titus Andronicus will be on stage in Stratford up to 26th October, 2013

Photos by Simon Annand

also published in German on http://artyviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/titus-andronicus-atemberaubender-buhnenhorror/