Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Another part of the field

And so to the theatre. Taking advantage of the hot weather I went to York to check out the pop-up Shakespearean theatre that has sprouted in the car park next to Clifford's Tower. Made of scaffolding rather than wood (they are at pains to point out that it's German scaffolding; whether that it is to reassure us of its quality or to make a political point I don't know) it is, to my eye at least, not as open to the sky as the Globe. The seats looked more comfortable - they had backs rather being just benches - but they are quite pricey so, being a tightarse, I was a groundling. There were drawbacks to that in a couple of ways: firstly the large pit area was very empty with only a few dozen occupants, most of whom sat on the floor thereby greatly reducing the atmosphere; and secondly it went on a bit. They chose to present almost the whole of "Richard III" instead of an edited version as is more usually performed. Every indication is that that's what they will also do with the other plays in repertory over the summer - be warned. In this case as far as I could see the only part they omitted was Act 5, Scene 4; which contains possibly the best known quote in the whole work and is, probably not coincidentally to its removal, pretty much the only scene which shows the man in a good light. Overall, and acknowledging the slight lack of atmosphere at this early stage in the season, I thought it wasn't bad at all.


Commemorations of the Great War continue of course in this, the centenary year of its end, and as a counterpoint to the recently seen production of "Journey's End", I have also been to see "Blackadder Goes Forth". The idea of putting TV sitcoms on the stage is not new (When I recently saw "100 Ways to Tie a Shoelace" in the studio at Harrogate Theatre most punters were there to see Joe Pasquale in "Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em" in the main house; you pays your money and you takes your choice), but is obviously a risky undertaking given the inevitable comparisons with the original cast that will arise. I thought that Baldrick worked the best, my companion for the evening plumped for George, but they all had as good a stab at it as one was entitled to expect. The show consisted of four episodes with the original scripts (all royalties to Comic Relief which co-author Richard Curtis co-founded) and I laughed a lot.  The design and staging coped admirably with the quick changes of scene required until the very end where, as you will no doubt recall, they go over the top for the big push. That bit, I am sad to report, was terrible; still, one can't have everything.

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