Posts Tagged ‘David Tennant’

Being so pleased with the stage and auditorium evolved from the Swan and Courtyard Theatres which has resulted in our new brilliant thrust style stage and one room space at the RST, we were a bit unsure of how we would re-act to our first proscenium arch theatre event for quite some time.

Armed with the knowledge that David Tennant was such a good Hamlet at The Courtyard we went on an away day to London. The Wyndham’s in the middle of Theatre-land is beautifully maintained and has a charming atmosphere. But, the first thing that struck us was the uncomfortable seats. They were certainly not as comfortable, roomy or with as much leg room as the RST- we had top class seats mind you and really those who have problems with some of the narrower seats at the RST should just visit another theatre like we did and then appreciate the RST version.

We did, however, enjoy the production albeit there is no doubt about it, in our minds, that it would have been better if it had been carried out by an RSC Ensemble. There is non-stop action and the fun factor was nearly as good as at Stratford. It’s hard to miss the sexual aspects of the play and Tennant and Tate do a fine job leaving no-one in any doubt regarding the double meanings. David Tennant was excellent and clearly enjoyed carrying out slapstick. However, he alone appeared to be in tune with the audience – probably as a result of his tenure with the RSC. Catherine Tate was quite good in parts, very funny but not always our ideal for the part of Beatrice.

The Director used 1980s Gibraltar for the setting. It was typical of the British military presence, on the Rock, where partying was the norm. With this in mind it helped in the trickery regarding Benedick and Beatrice. Perhaps the remaining class differences in British society are most evident within the military and the superb Navy uniforms were used to great effect. The Director, Josie Rourke made a change to the original players by giving Leonato a wife instead of a brother. Very well staged was the pre wedding party where Margaret (wearing Hero’s wig) has a vivid and noisy sex scene with Borachio which left little to the imagination.

One great strength of the production was that the non stop action was helped by the stage which kept revolving. There was a wonderful scene where decorators were working and it was not clear why. Suddenly it was obvious as later Tennant was covered in paint and Tate was hoisted up on a pulley. We still could not help thinking that Shakespeare is by far better if one uses the one room auditorium and a thrust stage.  Yes it was worth going to watch and very enjoyable but we left so glad that the RST and Swan Theatres are walking distances away from our house.

David and Ingrid Stevens

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On the TV, first there’s Clive Wood in the rerun of “Landgirls”, BBC1 every Sunday at 6.15pm, then on 2 and 3 May it’s Geoffrey Streatfeild in “Case Sensitive” showing on ITV @ 9pm and, finally, on Thursday week a new series called “The Shadow Line” starts on BBC2 with a fabulous cast including John Heffernan, whose Richard II I raved about recently! And, for those who prefer creating their own pictures, R4 from 6th May @ 11.30 am provides an outing with David Tennant.
I’m sure, if we focus, we can follow ALL these shows! 

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Something that sounds really interesting coming up over the next couple of weeks on Radio 4 – 

Over the past 10 months the RSC have been working with Radio 4’s James Naughtie and his Producer, Beaty Rubens to create a three part documentary about the Company being 50.

As part of the series James explores how the Company first came into being in 1961;  the creation of the Ensemble system;  some landmark productions and the opening production, Macbeth, in the RST.  The RSC have worked with James and Beaty to give exclusive breadth of access to the key people from the last half century including the voices of all five of the artistic directors –  Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, Terry Hands, Adrian Noble and Michael Boyd;  as well as Peter Brook, Cicely Berry, Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart and David Tennant; plus the wider team of artists, technicians and specialists who support the actors on stage.   The transmission dates are below:

The Ensemble:            Tuesday 5th April 11.30 am

The First Ten Years:   Tuesday 12th April 11.30 am

The  New Theatre       Tuesday 19th April 11.30 am

Happy Listening   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0101p01

by Jane Cromack

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John will be playing Richard II at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol from 10th February to 19th March. As usual, their website has all the important information so have a look at either  http://www.tobaccofactorytheatre.com/ or http://www.sattf.org.uk/.
Meanwhile, Kieran is back at the Octagon Bolton  http://www.octagonbolton.co.uk/ playing Mercutio and the Prince in Romeo & Juliet, running from 3rd February to 5th March. Also in the cast is long term alumnus Rob Edwards with Michelle Collins as the Nurse.

.. and on next Friday (14th) for Nick Asbury who’s appearing in Hustle @ 9pm on BBC1.


And get in the queue for tickets for David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado at the Wyndhams http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk from May to Sept 3rd!


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…as Geoff Streatfeild is appearing in “Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent”, the latest Linda La Plante vehicle, showing on ITV1 @ 9pm for 3 consecutive evenings starting on Monday 3rd January. The cast also includes Natalie Walter, another member of the Tennant “Hamlet” company.


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Jo Stone-Fewings, the RSC’s most recent Orsino, is currently appearing in “The Invisible Man” at the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre, London until 13th February 2011. As the blurb says “H.G. Wells’s classic tale is retold in a joyous, comedy music hall spectacular, packed with magical entertainment. This charming story combines tongue-in-cheek humour with jaw-dropping special effects and ingenious illusions.” Clearly the story has been greatly adapted!  http://www.menierchocolatefactory.com/
Sam Alexander, an alumni of the Tennant Hamlet, is at Manchester Royal Exchange in “The Bacchae” but it finishes on 4th December so hurry along if you haven’t already see it.  http://www.royalexchange.org.uk/page.aspx


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A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to be invited to see the Young People’s Shakespeare production of Hamlet at Claremont School in Harrow during its two week tour of London state schools.

I sat amongst journalists, patrons, RSC staff and associates and watched a large group of girls and boys in Year Seven (first year seniors) soak up a dynamic and vibrant production.  They were then given the opportunity to ask questions and to work with the actors on understanding scene setting, how to convey mood with sounds and finally acting out Hamlet’s first scene with the ghost.

YPS Hamlet. Images by Hugo Glendinning

There was a surprisingly small amount of fidgeting and the children threw themselves whole-heartedly into the workshop, the hall was buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement.  Those children who were chosen (hands up straining to be seen “pick me, pick me!”) to act out the scene with the ghost acquitted themselves admirably receiving cheers, ‘high fives’ from the RSC ensemble actors and general applause from the audience.

It was wonderful to see so many children really getting to grips with one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and I thoroughly enjoyed Tarell McCraney’s 80-minute adaptation.  It was interesting to see how McCraney brought the play into context for these pre-teens who appeared to be genuinely engaged in the performance.  Ophelia sang a contemporary pop song in her madness; dress was modern with black umbrellas used in abundance as swords, shields and camouflage; Osiric was fabulously camp; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were a modern Tweedledum and Tweedledee; and there was a definite feeling that the actors were ‘down’ with their audience.

The headmaster summed up what I am sure many of us felt when he said that the company had succeeded in genuinely demystifying Shakespeare by telling a good story well: “You can have the best product in the world but if you don’t have the best people delivering it, it’s pointless.”

I for one shall be booking to take my two daughters to the production when it shows at the RSC and then I shall introduce them to the full-length version with David Tennant.  Who could ask for a better introduction to Shakespeare’s tragedy?

By Jane Nead, RSC Friend, London

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