National Theatre Live: Twelfth Night at Dundee Contemporary Arts

I’ve been loving the National Theatre Live’s recent run of broadcasts at DCA. From No Man’s Land starring Ian McKellen to Hedda Gabler starring Ruth Wilson, the live transitions have made the National Theatre’s work so much more accessible and affordable to people all around the globe.

Last week’s broadcast was Shakespeare’s timeless play Twelfth Night, starring the comedic actress Tamsin Greig. I’ve recently become a fan of Shakespeare’s comedies, after thoroughly enjoyed the Dundee Rep’s production of Much Ado About Nothing last year, so I couldn’t wait to see the Twelfth Night brought to life on stage.

The play begins with a ship wreck which separates twins Viola (Tamara Lawrance) and Sebastian (Daniel Ezra). Viola is washed up ashore but Sebastian is missing and presumed dead. Determined to survive on her own, Viola steps out to explore a new land and reconstruct her life in a way that will honour her beloved brother. What follows is a hilarious whirlwind of madness, passion, mistaken identity and unrequited love, taking places within two rich households nearby.

I was surprised by just how fresh and current the play felt – despite it being well over 400 years old. It just goes to show that the best writing, never really ages! This version, directed by Simon Godwin, also has its own modern twist with Tamsin Greig playing the character of Malvolio, the head servant in Olivia’s a household – a part that’s usually reserved for a man. This clever twist worked well and only highlighted how the themes of Shakespeare’s plays are just as relevant today, as they were back then. After all love is love, no matter what form it comes in. This superbly acted production was warm, funny and emotional all at once, and was an absolute pleasure to watch.

The National Theatre Live will be broadcasting more theatre events throughout the spring and summer including Obsession, starring Jude Law, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf, starring Imelda Staunton and JM Barrie’s boyhood classic, Peter Pan,

For more information about National Theatre Live productions coming to Dundee and to book tickets, please visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of the Twelfth Night in exchange for this fair and honest review.

 

What’s Done Cannot Be Undone – Macbeth by Bard in the Botanics

c64_Macbeth(Small)It’s fair to say that Shakespeare’s grizzly Scottish play, Macbeth, is pretty well known by most. However there are still a few of us theatre fans who haven’t quite gotten round to see the Bard’s most popular play and until Tuesday evening, I was one of them.

I’d been looking forward to getting to grips with Macbeth for ages, but decided to bypass the recent film version to see it live as Shakespeare had intended us to see it. Bard in the Botanic’s production particularly appealed as it is set outside, against the dramatic backdrop of the Scotland’s skies. Unfortunately due to heavy rain, the play was relocated to The Rep at the last minute. While this was of course disappointing, the beautiful Dundee theatre venue is always a fantastic place to see any production.

Although I’d never seen Macbeth, I did know a vague outline of the story of the man who turned into monster after being seduced by the promise of power, but what I didn’t know was what led this gentle man to seek the crown at all costs.

Bard in the Botanic version of the play, directed by Gordon Barr, is every bit as bewitching as I’d hoped it would be. While the production was a tad confusing at times, with just five cast members playing multiple roles, the actor’s superb skills made sure that I was able to keep up with who was who.

Each role was played to perfection from the power hungry Macbeth played by Kirk Bage to Robert Elkin’s spellbinding witch whose demonic face haunted me for days. But it was Lady Macbeth, played by Nicole Cooper, who stole the show for me with her stunning portrayal of a distraught childless mother who had fallen into the dark side, pulling Macbeth down with her. For more information about Bard in the Botanics and their productions, please visit: http://bardinthebotanics.co.uk/

Now that I have two Shakespearian plays under my belt, I’m desperate to see more! Which Shakespeare play would you recommend? I’d love to know…

 

Review: Much Ado About Nothing at Dundee Rep

MuchAdo-Artwork-650x450I’m going to start this review with a bit of a confession – until Saturday night I was kind of a Shakespeare virgin! While I have of course watched various adaptations of his work on the silver screen and read some of his plays (I went through a huge and somewhat depressing Romeo and Juliet phase during my teenage years) I have never seen any of his work brought to life on stage. Shocking I know.

So when I made my way to the Dundee Rep, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I didn’t know the story of Much Ado, and I was a bit worried. Would I know what was going on? Would it be really long and boring? Well the answers to those questions are yes and no, and thankfully in that order. The story is an age old one. It’s the tale of a man and a woman, who are both absolutely perfect for one and other, but are just too proud to admit their feelings.

When I discovered that Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, I’d hoped that there would be a few laughs, but I hadn’t expected to spend most of the performance collapsed in giggles. And it wasn’t just me, the entire theatre was filled with brilliant roars of laughter.

Emily Winter was fantastic as Beatrice, the lovable but stubborn heroine of the play, but it was Robert Jack who completely stole the show, and the audience’s heart, as the hilarious Benedick. His comedic facial expressions and slapstick performance made the play for me. Of course it wasn’t all laughs, every story needs a villain and this play is no different. The darker part of the play, featuring the downfall of Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Marli Siu) at the hands of Borachio (Ewan Donald) and Don John (Ali Watt), provided just the right amount of darkness to make the story gripping as well as funny.

I needn’t have worried about the performance dragging, in fact the evening flew in and by the end of it, I’d laughed more than I had in months, years even. When I left, I heard the woman in front of me tell her companion, that Much Ado About Nothing had been so good, that she would have to come and see it again. I think I might just have to join her.

Much Ado About Nothing is at Dundee Rep until the 26th of June.