Hate Shakespeare?

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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Ranbir » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:14 pm

Was just rewatching on iplayer.

I've thought about this monologue. And the varying rhythms one could perform it. Legend.

Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before
his day. What need I be so forward with him that
calls not on me? Well, ’tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
he that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
Doth he hear it? no. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
ends my catechism.
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:34 pm

Watched the Hollow Crown series later then most, great title sequence. The first three plays got less then 800,000 watching it live. I'm hoping a lot more, like my family recorded it/watched on i-player otherwise we will be relying on Chris Pattern to be a strong backer for more plays or it to do far better abroad.

Richard II: Opens off impressively, good use of set and characters to give a sense of majesty. Ben Whishaw was simply fantastic, a powerful display that catches the eye and which the play needs to work. Some epic confrontations between characters with the play having such excellent dialogue, would have liked a bit more romance, good cast, one or two bits of the ending didn't work for me. Loved it!

Henry IV-Part 1: I had a problem in that I had seen the Globe Theatre's version too recently. That was a far more comic version which used witty banter, was a bit cruder/sexual, had a force of personality in Falstaff. Adjusting to the different portrayals of Harry, Hotspur (and the strong accent), a more serious production and how different Falstaff was took some time. Personally I preferred the stage version over the BBC version.

None the less this was a good production with a strong from Jeremy Irons and some poignancy in the King's section. Joe Armstrong and Michelle Dockery were very good with able support from others and I liked their Hotspur, there were good changes from the play version and the rebels section was good until the battle, when it fell flat. Prince Hal's side were played serious, the banter was lacking but there was humour and poignancy in the group banter sections. Some sad moments and the battle scenes were intresting from Hal's side. Tom Hiddleston was a bit off at first but grew strongly into the role and was ably supported. I liked a lot of the changes, including bring Maxine Peake's Doll Tearsheet in early, and the poignancy but felt some of the character portrayals meant some moments didn't seem to quite suit said character.

Henry IV-Part 2: Bad play but they made a decent fist of it despite a poor performance by Irons. The serious humanity suited this play and for an hour or so, it worked well for the likes of Beale's Falstaff and Dawson's Poins involved in some moving scenes. However the play runs out of steam and some of the big moments fall flat with Hiddleston erratic, strong ending.

Henry V: A good production with some strong performances from the likes of Anton Lesser, good use of the French and of the chorus. For once the throne room didn't work to portray the sense of the king and once again, the battles were good till it became about individual fights. Moving start and end but Hiddleston didn't quite feel like Henry V, couldn't take the role on and make it a great production. Makes me want to watch the Branagh version again

Overall: Good productions with only the first play, for me, heading into classic territory. Some things they did really well like the sense of personality in the throne rooms, the sense of sad humanity, battles when it is everyone. Most of the idea's they had were good but big moments are hit and miss. Wasn't happy with the way they did battles when they changed to 1v1's and the way characters reached from point A to point E at the end of the play, or in future plays, didn't seem to be properly worked out so things at the end could seem out of character.

In more detail: HEAVY SPOILERS
Richard II
I know one or two wondered how they would do the opening scene but thought it really set a mood. In the way, that is what this play does: sets the mood for the series of historical plays, seeing this has given new insight into the Globe Theatre production of Henry IV, part 1 and 2, yet I can also see why it doesn't get produced much with Richard easy to mis-portray. It is a great pity as without seeing it, the following history plays are all the poorer without that context this one provides. It is also a great pity because it is a great play, at least this production was, with many memorable lines/passages like the opening "let us talk of the death of Kings".

It opens impressively with that famous speech then seeing Richard (Ben Whishaw) seated in front of gold tapestry. It is the first moment where it look and come across potentially naff but the excellent production, costumes and performance of Whishaw instead install an aura around the King, a sense of majesty and a man different from those around him, a man seen as strange. It sets up how badly Richard is viewed by his subjects well but I enjoyed that it avoided good Henry Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear) vs evil Richard but far more complex. That there were arguments on both sides, that Henry's side were less then saintly themselves. The impressive speech by the ailing John of Gaunt (Patrick Stewart) has been ruined for me by various "patriotic" TV adverts though my sister and my mother loved it. The play is good early on but for me really starts to get going when Richard returns from Ireland to hear the bad news/the tired regent Duke of York (David Suchet) berating Henry, it suddenly gets a lot better. It becomes about the confrontations, particularly Richard vs his rebellious subject and it is brilliant to watch. Shakespeare's lines when done right are fascinating to watch but can easily look silly, thankfully Whishaw's fantastic performance ensures instead it shows Richard's intelligence, state of mind and sense of the dramatic. It is a powerful display that catches the eye and drew me in, each word with a deliberate purpose. End phase was very good with some strong dialogue, excellent foreshadowing and was intresting watching how things unfolded, how Bolingbroke reacted. On the other hand the Jesus stuff is heavy handed and thought Richard's location at the end was over the top.

Overall, brilliantly shot with some good use of locations, excellent costumes, an excellent production for an entertaining play. Love how it all foreshadows, with the warnings and the curses, what is to come in the future and Shakespeare deserves credit for thinking in the long term. Able to build every major character up well, no matter what the time, so we understand their motives. One thing I would have liked done differently, because I'm a big romance fan, is the relationship between Richard and his Queen Isabella (Clémence Poésy), very sweet when the two connect but they get so little time together. Suchet and Poésy's voices could be a little too quiet at times compared to everyone else.

Ben Whishaw deserves some sort of award for his sensational performance and he was well supported by the rest of the cast: Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, David Morrissey, Lindsay Duncan, Tom Hughes, James Purefoy, Ferdinand Kingsley, Samuel Roukin and Harry Hadden-Paton. My sister wasn't a huge fan of Rory Kinnear's performance, did get outshone by Whishaw but felt he finished strongly. Clémence Poésy connected really well with others but when by herself, was very hard to read her expression.


---

Henry IV Part 1
A decent production but not helped by seeing the Globe Theatre's longer, more comic version so recently. It doesn't help comparing things, adjusting to a new version of the characters, the disappointing when a scene was cut out/where a scene lacks the same resonance. Might look better if I see this again in a few years and wonder if the build up was hampered by my adjusting to it all. Was played in a more serious manner so less comedy and did feel like it cleaned up some of the more crude/sexual moments. A lot of amusement at seeing Robert Pugh as Glyndŵr in this and as the Welsh King/Lord in the play. Was the odd occasion late on where a character did something that felt slightly off with the way they had been portrayed. Some of the character portrayals meant some moments didn't seem to quite suit said character.

The King section: Was the play's weakness, the scenes seemed long and boring but one of the stronger points of the TV version. Seemed to be less "this is the situation we are at" explanations which perhaps helped but the strong performance of Jeremy Irons. From the moment the King bemoaned his son in comparison to Hotspur, he became a troubled weary old man, someone all too human. Gave a bit of poignancy near the end but wished they had used some of the curses/predictions in Richard II to greater effect. Henry Faber (first film/TV) showed promise as young Prince John of Lancaster.

Hotspur and his rebels: Takes awhile to get used to Henry "Hotspur" Percy's strong accent by Joe Armstrong. Lacked Sam Crane's flair of brilliance but was more consistent and the raging youth, the angry warrior was intresting, didn't quite pull off the final scenes. Felt the character grew into the play, conversing better with the others. Michelle Dockery was impressive as the wife and a welcome improvement on the play and there was able support by Alun Armstrong (Earl of Northumberland), David Hayman (Worchester) who I took ages to remember where I had seen him before, Pugh has a force of personality about him, Harry Lloyd had a young gentleman's charm as Mortimer, Stephen McCole as Douglas and the lovely singing Alexandra Clatworthy as Mortimer's wife. Felt most of the changes to the scenes worked well but the battle scene did not very well on their end, leading it to lack poignancy.

Prince Hal and his merry band: This was the part I was most looking forward to and the part that most disappointed me. The play had great banter, rude and was highly amusing as battles of wit and japes were played. The insults aimed at Mistress Quickly (Barbara Marten), the erratic but charismatic Lee Wynter as Poins and others supporting well. Jamie Parker was a charismatic, playful, dissolute Harry who could harden up when the time came and it had an excellent Falstoff for everyone to play off. Roger Allam's Falstoff was a force of personality, bawdy, very intelligent, he caught the eye as he lied and joked, he was the star of the show. Even when it moved to more serious matters, Parker adjusted well and Falstoff gave an alternative view to things that stuck in the mind.

There aren't the force of personalities or the witty banter here, it feels a little cleaned up and early attempts at banter falls very flat. It is a far more subdued version, with solid rather then fascinating support characters: David Dawson is more consistently solid but lacks the charisma and erratic flair of Wynter's version of Poins, Tom Georgeson as Bardolph and Ian Conningham as Peto, Mistress Quickly (Julie Walters) is just an old lady. Simon Russell Beale's Falstoff is a sad old man, lacking the wit and presence to be a great character, notable more for being so pathetic then being wise. The sad desperation in a few poignant moments however was very moving. Tom Hiddleston's haircut was distracting and he had a poor start but he and his Prince Hal grew as the show went on, a chilling and ruthless side peaking through every now and again. Hiddleston may not make the greatest dissolute but his Hal had a commanding presence when required and was highly impressive the more time he got. When not bantering but talking serious affairs, you can see a future King emerging.

Some of the changes were good once I adjusted. This Prince Harry may have a poor banterer but this version was still intresting, Falstoff was disappointing but could still be poignant and it will be intresting to sets them up for part 2 then the Globe Theatre managed. The banter may have been poor but it knew how to use groups to it's advantage like in the mock King talking to Harry. In the Globe Theatre, that was 1v1 banter and highly entertaining, bar brief moments with Quickly, whereas this was used more for Harry and Falstoff to amuse their friends. It was fascinating as the camera moved to the face of the likes of Points, Bardolph and others as they reacted to each verbal joust, cries filling the air. Bringing in Doll Tearsheet from part 2 to also be in part 1 was a good move, allowed them to have some fun with her and Maxine Peake put in a good performance.


---

Henry IV Part 2
Now this one I was interested in, the play version was ill-set up for this part and struggled at times. With the TV show having played it so straight and serious with a weak Falstaff in part 1, it seemed better for the more sombre part 2. Problem is, there is only so much you can do with a bad play to revive it and this is clearly not a good Shakespeare's play. They put in a good production and make a good fist of it for quite some time, indeed it is decently enjoyable early on but after Falstoff leaves London, it simply runs out of steam and only one of the big moments works.

It was intresting seeing the different ways the Globe Theatre and the bbc tried to make it work. The stage version played it with as much comedy as they could with Hal's pals working well enough, the banter between Allam's Falstaff and Jade Williams's Doll Tearsheet was both very amusing and somewhat touching. Falstaff and his companions worked less well, Sam Crane's Pistol was annoying and William Gaunt's Shallow was erratic. With the humour so fitful, there was a lot of boring scenes but also to the Globe's credit: they had a strong Archbishop of York in Paul Rider and when the big moments came, particularly near the end, they pulled it off extremely well. The four big moments being Northumberland's mourning, the execution of the rebels, Henry taking his father's crown+the ensuing confrontation, Henry vs Falstaff at the end. The TV version played it more straight throughout, no elaborate comic characters in their version of Poins, Shallow (David Bamber) or Pistol (Paul Ritter). The scene between Beale's Falstaff and Peake's Doll certainly lacks the humour but replaces it with humanity and is more touching for it. It is consistently decent for awhile before the plays lack of quality brings it down but when needing to reach the heights, only the last big moment works.

King's faction: It does help if the guy playing Henry IV puts in a good performance but after his strong performance in part 1, Irons is very disappointing with a poor performance. Geoffrey Palmer as the Chief Justice (possibly based on William Gascoigne) put in a very good performance and some of the stronger scenes involve him. James Laurenson (Westmorland) and Iain Glen (Warwick) put in decent performances, Henry Faber as Prince John is capable but couldn't give an edge to his big moment.

The Rebels: There is no Hotspur to draw the attention and rebels have few scenes to make an impact. In the play, Paul Rider made every moment count and made some moving speeches, Nicholas Jones is decent but barely makes an impression as the rebel Archbishop. Alun Armstrong is a bit erratic but makes a moving speech as Northumberland, neither Niamh Cusack or Dockery had their best performance. Adam Kotz (Hastings) and Pip Torrens (Mowbray) did decently.

Hal/Falstaff and their band: This more suited the style of Beale's Falstaff and Dawson's Poins, scenes were better set for more glimpses at the sad humanity. Particularly with Points, both actors performing well and their characters making more of an impact. With more of a role for Doll, Peake put in another good performance and helped make one of the best scenes work. Walters, Conningham, Georgeson, Tim McMullan (Silence) put in decent performances in fairly small roles, David Bamber as Shallow and Ritter as Pistol were decent but failed to make the characters stand out. Hiddleston's performance did sum up the play somewhat: a good start where he helped us see into the character of Prince Harry, hints of the sadness to come. Then his performance falls flat for awhile and in major part which relies on his performance, he fails to deliver. Did rally by the end to put in a strong ending performance.


---

Henry V
The big finale set just before the Olympics unsurprisingly. A strong start with John Hurt setting the scene at the King's funeral with the moving lines. The series has specialized in sad, human moments and we saw that with Quickly, Pistol, Bardolph and others. Generally it stayed away from such human moments, it was about King Henry and his attempts to conquer France which meant it lost one of the TV productions strengths. Yet this did have sad moments of it's own and was a good production, good use of flashbacks, good use of the chorus, great costumes, a strong start and a strong ending. John Hurt made an excellent narrator.

Three things I didn't think it got right was 1) the throne room: in Richard II and Henry IV, it helped give a sense of the rulers but this, just seemed like too big a room with so few people in it. Only at the end was there any sense of wonder in the throne room. 2) the battle, initially great but some of the kill scenes for important characters lacked an impact. 3) struggled to cope with making the propaganda lines (the ancestors) work unless it used as a sign of Henry V's more questionable side of his character or cynically playing it as propaganda. None the less felt it was a good production.

For the English party, Anton Lesser was superb as the Duke of Exeter, pulling off one speech so magnificently. Fellow nobles struggled to stand out due to lack of time though the cast did a good job. Paul Freeman as Thomas Erpingham, Paterson Joseph as the Duke of York, James Laurenson as Westmorland, Malcolm Sinclair as the Archbishop, Richard Clothier as Salisbury and Nigel Cooke as the Bishop of Ely. The lower orders had one sad scene together early on but also suffered from a lack of time. The returning cast members did well, wasn't a fan of Owen Teale's performance as Fluellen, liked George Sargeant as Falstaff's former servant, the rest did decently like Gwilym Lee (as Williams) and John Dagleish (John Bates).

Despite lack of time, some of the performances on the French side helped form characters quickly. Watching the events unfold across Lambert Wilson's face, as Charles VI, was painful at times and the youth arrogance/fire/anger of Louis, the Dauphin (Edward Akrout ) was there to see. Geraldine Chaplin as the maid Alice and Mélanie Thierry (who I enjoyed as Louise de Kérouaille in the excellent bbc series Charles II: The Power and The Passion) her mistress, Princess Katherine both did well. Was a bit of an odd choice doing an entire scene in French but think it played off for the moment near the end with the fairly sweet romance. I found Richard Griffiths to be poor as the Duke of Burgundy but my sister thought he did alright, Jérémie Covillault started very well then dipped a bit as the Herald Montjoy, felt Maxime Lefrançois was poor as the Constable of France, Stanley Weber was solid as the Duke of Orléans.

It's a good version but to take an extra step like Richard II, the play needs it's leading man to really grab the role. For me, Hiddleston never managed it though that isn't to say his performance was bad. At first it seemed like he was finishing a speech then having to add a few more lines, his line delivery felt disjointed. He recovered and did well enough but he never quite became Henry V. He didn't do anything wrong but he just doesn't become the King, he can't quite sell it in the same way Whishaw did so brilliantly in Richard II so the big moments rarely worked.

Makes me want to see the Kenneth Branagh version again.
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Ayame » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:41 am

I watched part of the Hollow Crown series. It was great.
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:58 pm

Seems BBC will complete the historical plays with Richard III and Henry VI. Yay! :D
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Ayame » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:34 am

Really? Who is playing Richard III?
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:35 am

Ayame wrote:Really? Who is playing Richard III?


Don't think they have done the casting yet
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:19 pm

Ayame wrote:Really? Who is playing Richard III?


Benedict Cumberbatch has the role.
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Ayame » Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:13 am

Dong Zhou wrote:
Ayame wrote:Really? Who is playing Richard III?


Benedict Cumberbatch has the role.


Well, that sounds good to me.
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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:23 am

On Monday Edit: Saturday 26th Monday 21st, Sky Arts starting a Shakespeare season including showing all their Globe Theatre stuff including one or two new ones. If you have Sky Arts then I recommend giving some of the plays a shot as they tend to put a humorous take on the plays and usually a lot of fun.

I found recently that the Romeo's and Juliet's I enjoy the most are the ones that don't take it with a straight, serious adult romance but those who go for very passionate, hormone filled youths. It's an intresting angle and perhaps works best with the material being they are two youngsters being very very passionate and all consumed by their feelings.

Edit: Monday 21st confirmed
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Hate Shakespeare?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun May 18, 2014 12:34 pm

Saw Globe Theatre's 2012 Production of Much Ado About Nothing with Charles Edwards and Eve Best as the quarrelling Benedick and Beatrice. For childhood reasons, was pleased to see Joseph Marcell (Butler in Fresh Prince) as Leonato.

In terms of writing quality, it does feel a bit mixed. Shakespeare gives a play that can be done in a number of ways as usual, some of his writing involves some brilliant one line wit that makes one laugh, there are themes underneath it all that have potential to resonate even now, there are two main romances with Benedict and Beatrice being one of his more famous couples for good reason. On the other hand, some jokes get shot apart by going on for a paragraph when the best jokes seemed to be the quick ones that roll off the tongue. In the latter stages, when it shifts to more serious tone, the pacing of the story doesn't feel right and it rushes through towards the end, at least one character's actions feels somewhat deus ex machina though the production shares some blame for some of the flaws.

The production generally does a good job, having freedom to exploit that there was rain dropping on the stage, a cast that felt free to use the audience for a laugh. There was almost a pantomime element to the humour, the over the top-sneaking or "whispers", playing with the audience, some nice physical comedy, it takes a lighter tone. It more struggles in the serious phases as it struggles to make one thing connect
Leonato's anger and threats on the daughter
while I question how another plays an important aspect
Philip Cumbus showed raging anger as Claudio but never seemed to be mourning or guilty for his part in death


The cast need to 1) be funny, 2) good actors, 3) some of them need to make good romances. The two leads are superb, with Edwards having the comic edge over Best, as both are great deliveries of one line wit, played with the audience but also showed a more vulnerable side when required. Philip Cumbus as Claudio doesn't quite get one scene right but is generally funny, warm and likeable, linking well with Ony Uhiara's Hero though Uhiara shows sweetness and good physical comedy, she tries too hard with long speeches and so can be flat. It is hard not to root for the two couples in their very different ways.

Joseph Marcell was charming, had good pantomime humour and a nice rage when required, Matthew Pidgeon has a lot of fun playing the villain, John Stahl as Antonio was quietly competent but really came into life near the end. Paul Hunter is very disappointing as Dogberry, his comedy generally didn't work which is a problem for a mainly comic character trying to add a bit of humour to more serious passage. Lisa McGrillis as Magrate does good psychical comedy and one liners but speaks too fast when given speeches while Marcus Griffiths, the amusing Adrian Hood, Ewan Stewart, Helen Weir and Joe Caffrey did a fine job.

Overall, this was a fun, amusing and charming, if somewhat flawed, play and I had a great time.
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