Hello Wordsmiths, this just might be time killing.
Weekly readings of the complete works of Shakespeare by a global cast.
is a general in Ancient Rome who returns from war victorious, but having lost
all but four of his twenty-one sons. This is a very bloody play, an early work
of Shakespeare’s that’s a tug-of-war between honour, tradition and a
considerable amount of revenge. As is often the case with Shakespeare, our
sympathies stretch from the characters we like to encompass even the
Must Go Online title their weekly Shakespeare dramas as “readings” but dare I
say, they’re doing themselves an injustice because they are much more than that.
What they’ve achieved sits somewhere between a reading and a stage play. Lord
knows what you’d call it. They’ve genuinely rendered a new platform to
experience Shakespeare. And it works surprisingly
well on so many levels. I really didn’t expect to be taken by it but I have:
indeed, I declare myself a fan!
Via this Zoom
platform, Shakespeare’s work is delivered with all the energy and vitality of a
live performance. It’s Elizabethan theatre with all the drama and excitement
and anticipation. The show even abounds with chatter from ‘the yard’ as
‘commoners’ crowd around the stage pouring their oohs and ahhs, praise and boos
from the chat room alongside the stage. This too lends itself to the immediacy
of the performance.
When does a
mere reading require such stage directions and use of props? It went beyond a reading, each character
encapsulated in their own screen, reaching us from their own podium, brilliantly
choreographed by the production team. In Act 1 Titus is curiously wearing
gloves: but this is genius, for when Lavinia enters in her own remote space, welcoming
her father’s return to Rome, we see her face lovingly caressed by the same
gloved hand – Dad’s.
scenes in this gruesomely violent play, that don’t make the standard stage. Here
stage direction delivers a pop-up podium when Lavinia’s tongue is cut off. Yes,
we see the gruesome business take place in real time.
is inciting Chiron and Demetrius to do their worst, all three characters are
leaning heavily into the camera. The word’s the thing and, as Rob Myles
illuminates in discussion after the play, Shakespeare is very much an auditory
experience. Still, this is a play to be seen and here we very clearly see Aaron,
full of merciless glee and calculation, a beckoning Uncle from Hades, and the
two Goth brothers expressing their filthy amusement and musings over his vile
is filmed to be broadcast on the screen often loses its vitality and effectiveness
in that it’s very clear you’re watching a theatre performance re-directed to
watch away from the live experience. This performance has you there, in the
theatre, part of the theatre, experiencing it in this altogether new medium, a new
venue. It’s a new venue! Hail the new stage!
As more and
more of us are now accustomed to meeting on Zoom or platforms of a similar ilk in
the age of social distancing it’s marked that each character comes to us from
their own room, their own space, into a virtual shared auditorium.
The cast transmit
from London in the main but also Vancouver, Glasgow, Bristol, Los Angeles and
New York. The audience too are an international lot; we’re gathered from
London, Milan and I do believe I saw someone from Sarajevo.
thoroughly recommend this production and look forward to the next
reading/performance next week.
Directed by: Rob Myles
Produced by: The Show Must Go On
Live streamed: 22 April 2020, and weekly every Wednesday
Can be found alongside previous readings: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBFO-wpdFFypTYtKyK7CEBCBgFZtRmL0z
Text Editing: Dan Beaulieu
Casting Director: Sydney Aldridge
Stage Manager & Master of Props: Emily Ingram
Fight Direction/Stunts: Yarit Dor & Enric Ortuno
Sound Design: Adam Woodhams
Associate Producers: Natalie Chan, Matthew Rhodes
Social Media: Lucy Aarden
Infrastructure Support: Dr Ed Guccione, Dr Kay Guccione
Zoom provided by: Paraffin Ltd
Was I right?
No need to thank me.