Cymbeline: a comedy with menace

‘Cymbeline’ is one of Shakespeare’s longer plays, consisting of five acts replete with mistaken identity, miscommunication and more witty repartee than one can shake a stick at. The action begins with Imogen, daughter of Cymbeline, the King of Britain, having enraged her father by marrying a commoner named Posthumus, played by the velvety Irish-burred Jonjo […]

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Happy Birthday Shakespeare

On the 22nd April, up and down the country we celebrated the birth of our beloved bard, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare often gets a bad name with school students, because of his arcane vocabulary and the difficulties of trying to appreciate a medium meant to be performed whilst reading it on the page. The dilemmas of […]

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Coriolanus – A Review

On an exceptionally bitter February night, an audience awaits the opening scene of Coriolanus. Set in Regent’s Park College, the stage is a bare concrete platform, backed onto the Dining Hall. Yet, despite this very bare backdrop, and the limitations of performing a play outside in Hilary Term, it is set to hold an excellent […]

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King Lear – A Review

Walking into Blackwell’s to see Creation Theatre’s King Lear on Monday evening was a surreal experience. The books were all there, yet appeared unfamiliar under the blue stage lights, the customer service sign hidden by a lighting rig, and rows of seating posited between the shelves (“it’s like being in a private box!” as one […]

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Coriolanus – A Preview

Walking in on the rehearsals of Coriolanus, directed by Lucy Clarke, I found it hard to believe that the cast still had a week and a half to go before the performance. We don’t often actually appreciate how hard it is for Oxford students to find time in the week, already full to the brim […]

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Review: Hamlet

Shakespeare’s most psychological play is modernised effectively by James Watt’s visceral and intense production at the O’ Reilly Theatre, rich with psychological insight into its preoccupation with the perversities of Hamlet’s obsessions. Directed by James Watts, this is an ominous and cinematic production brought to life by its aesthetic of sullied purity and its expert […]

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Review: Titus Andronicus

Before Titus Andronicus had even begun, its audience were given a taste of the gruesome drama that was to come: the relatively bare stage was covered with a dusty looking cloth, splattered with the fake blood stains of the previous night’s performance. What followed was a fairly strong rendering of Shakespeare’s goriest tragedy, complete with some unexpected, though effective directorial choices. […]

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Preview: Titus Andronicus

Landing neatly on the week of Halloween, this production of Shakespeare’s (disputed) early tragedy Titus Andronicus promises a dark, gory spectacle, perfect for the season. When I visited the rehearsals I was only able to see a section of the play, but within that short time was taken on a breathless journey through passion and […]

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Review: King Lear

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”, declares the Fool, garbed in the trappings of a mental patient. He positions the cast—all wearing animal masks—around the dimly-lit stage, and, after tip-toeing around the unsettling figures and adjusting their posture, clicks his fingers to throw us into […]

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The rain of kings? Shakespeare meets the elements in Henry V

Be prepared to be rained on, shouted at, and pushed around in Luke Rollason’s gritty new production of Henry V, coming to Worcester College Gardens in 5th week. Bringing promenade theatre to Oxford for the first time, Rollason plans to stage an interactive production, drawing the play out its reputation as a stuffy history, and […]

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Shakespeare on the Seine

I’ve seen a lot of Macbeth witches in my short life, but I’ve never seen any that are quite so… orgasmic? There’s definitely an unnervingly sexual tone to these witches in ripped wedding dresses. Their take is far more alarming than any of the three-girls-with-green-hair-and-pointed-hats-attempts I saw at school. The infamous ‘bubble bubble’ scene follows directly on […]

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Gender-bending R&J tries too hard

  ✮✮ Undoubtedly within the Shakespeare canon Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular to perform, and one of the hardest to get right. It needs vitality, chemistry, and a strange coexistence of superficial lightness with turmoil bubbling below the surface. When the performance is then given a gender swap twist, further complications […]

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‘A Night to Remember’ isn’t a lie

✮✮✮✮ Chutney and Chips came to reinvent the canon, to shake up Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a cocktail of Bollywood dance and Oxford allusions – and then pour the whole thing out into a riotous combination of good humour, touching emotion, and communal festivity. It felt like the Indian community of Oxford was […]

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