Die Komödie der Irrungen [The Comedy of Errors]

Die Komödie der Irrungen
Director: Herbert Fritsch
Writer: William Shakespeare, translated by Sabrina Zwach
Cast: Sebastian Blomberg, Simon Jensen, Dorothee Hartinger, Stefanie Dvorak, Mavie Hörbiger, Petra Morzé, Klaus Pohl, Falk Rockstroh, Michael Masula, Marta Kizyma, Merlin Sandmeyer, Dirk Nocker, Hermann Scheidleder
Seen on: 26.2.2017

Plot:
Merchants from Syracuse are currently forbidden from entering Ephesus. To Egeon’s (Klaus Pohl) he is discovered in the city. Moved by the sad story of how many years ago, Egeon’s twin sons were separated, together with the twin servant boys and how Egeon search for his lost son has brought him to Syracuse, Solinus (Michael Masula) grants him a day to find the money needed to buy himself free. Meanwhile Egeon’s son Antipholus (Sebastian Blomberg) and his servant Dromio (Simon Jensen) also arrive in Ephesus. Once there, their paths cross the Ephesus versions of Antipholus (Sebastian Blomberg) and Dromio (Simon Jensen) – only they don’t know it. Confusions ensues.

The Comedy of Errors is an absolutely nonsensical play – and Fritsch’s hyped-up brightly colored production of it sets the perfect tone to make it fly.

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The Tempest

The Tempest
Director: Gregory Doran
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Broadbent, Jenny Rainsford, Joe Dixon, Mark Quartley, James Tucker, Tom Turner, Daniel Easton
Seen on: 11.1.2017
[Here’s my review of the Julie Taymor movie version.]

Plot:
Many years ago Prospero (Simon Russell Beale) was betrayed by his brother Antonio (Jonathan Broadbent). Antonio sent him and his daughter Miranda (Jenny Rainsford) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Joe Dixon), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Mark Quartley) who both have been enslaved by Prospero’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (James Tucker), his brother Sebastian (Tom Turner) and his son Ferdinand (Daniel Easton), but also Antonio. Prospero knows that his time has come at last.

The Tempest was a gorgeous production with a strong cast and nice use of video projections. It still had a couple of issues, but I did enjoy it very much.

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Идеальный муж. Комедия [An Ideal Husband. Comedy]

Идеальный муж. Комедия
Director: Konstantin Bogomolov
Writer: Konstantin Bogomolov
Based on: Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Anton Chekhov‘s Three Sisters, Johann Wolfgang Goethe‘s Faust and William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet
Cast: Nadezhda Borisova, Andrei Burkovsky, Rosa Khairullina, Svetlana Kolpakova, Alexei Kravchenko, Maxim Matveev, Igor Mirkurbanov, Darya Moros, Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko, Yana Osipova, Artyom Panchik, Vladimir Panchik, Aleksandr Semchev, Marina Sudina, Pavel Chinarev, Sergei Chonishvili, Pavel Vashchilin
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 27.5.2016

Plot:
Lord (Igor Mirkurbanov) is a famous Russian singer, about to be honored for his life’s work in the Kremlin. The prize is delivered by his friend Robert (Alexei Kravchenko) who is the Minister for Rubber Goods. But their partying finds a quick end when they are contacted by Cheavley, the main rival of Robert’s wife Gertrude. Cheavley has video evidence that Lord and Robert are actually lovers and threatens to expose them. In the world of Russian politics, intrigue and bigotry that cannot stand.

An Ideal Husband is a sometimes haphazard but always enthusiastic amalgamation of various texts that are full of political barbs, irony and sarcasm. While it was a bit long and seeing it in Vienna made it feel a little diluted, I did enjoy most of it.

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The Tempest (2010)

The Tempest
Director: Julie Taymor
Writer: Julie Taymor
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Helen MirrenFelicity JonesDavid StrathairnAlan CummingChris CooperBen WhishawDjimon HounsouRussell BrandAlfred MolinaReeve CarneyTom Conti
Seen on: 16.3.2016

Plot:
Many years ago Prospera (Helen Mirren) was betrayed by her brother Antonio (Chris Cooper). He sent her and her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Ben Whishaw) who both have been enslaved by Prospera’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (David Strathairn), his brother Sebastian (Alan Cumming) and his son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), but also Antonio. Prospera knows that her time has come at last.

The Tempest is a visually impressive film with a great cast, but it never quite takes off – there are simply too many things that don’t work.

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The Winter’s Tale

The Winter’s Tale
Director: Kenneth Branagh, Rob Ashford
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Miranda Raison, John Shrapnel, Hadley Fraser, Tom Bateman, Jessie Buckley, Michael Pennington
Seen on: 26.11.2015

Plot:
Leontes (Kenneth Branagh), King of Sicily, is visited by his old friend Polixenes (Hadley Fraser), King of Bohemia. When Polixenes wants to leave, Leontes asks his pregnant wife Hermione (Miranda Raison) to convince him to stay. When she succeeds, Leontes believes it’s because she and Polixenes have an affair. Convinced that the child isn’t his, Leontes tries to poison Polixenes and imprisons Hermione, setting events in motion that will have consequences for years to come.

The Winter’s Tale is a mixed bag of beans. While I enjoyed much about it and it really was a high quality production, there were so many unnecessary things that kept adding length when I was hoping for speed that the overall effect was rather meh.

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Macbeth (2015)

Macbeth
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writer: Todd Louiso, Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, David Thewlis, Scot Greenan, Jack ReynorSean HarrisElizabeth Debicki, Brian Nickels, Kayla Fallon, Lynn Kennedy, Seylan Baxter, Amber Rissmann
Seen on: 6.11.2015

Plot:
Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and Banquo (Paddy Considine) just fought successfully for King Duncan (David Thewlis) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet four witches (Kayla Fallon, Lynn Kennedy, Seylan Baxter, Amber Rissmann) who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Marion Cotillard) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

Macbeth unfortunately was an absolute disappointment. I don’t think I have ever seen a more monotous film, and that with Macbeth as your basis as well!

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Henry V

Henry V
Director: Gregory Doran
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Alex Hassell, Jennifer Kirby, Sam Marks, Antony Byrne, Oliver Ford Davies, Sean Chapman, Daniel Abbott, Simon Thorp
Seen on: 21.10.2015
[Here are my reviews of Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2 out of the same production cycle.]

Plot:
Hal, now Henry (Alex Hassell), has succeeded his father as King of England, forcing him to finally grow up and prove himself to England. For that he goes to war with France where he lays claim to parts of the country, hoping to unify the English behind himself in the face of a common enemy.

Oh man. I’m not a huge fan of Shakespeare’s histories (though I did enjoy Richard II and I have hopes that I will like Richard III when I get around to it properly). But Henry V might actually be worse than even Henry IV. I was so bored, I hardly have words for it.

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Hamlet

Hamlet
Director: Lyndsey Turner
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Benedict CumberbatchSian Brooke, Ciarán HindsAnastasia Hille, Jim Norton, Leo Bill, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Matthew Steer, Rudi Dharmalingam
Seen on: 15.10.2015

Plot:
Prince Hamlet (Benedict Cumberbatch) just returned to Denmark after his father’s death. His mother Gertrud (Anastasia Hille) has quickly remarried – and who else but Hamlet’s uncle Claudius (Ciarán Hinds)? But Hamlet’s father still haunts the castle grounds and he tells Hamlet that it was his own brother who killed him. Now it’s upon Hamlet to set things right again. But Hamlet’s grasp on sanity is slipping. Or maybe that is all a ruse?

I have seen Hamlet now in many iterations and just like Shakespeare’s historical plays aren’t for me, Hamlet isn’t for me either. This production certainly didn’t change my mind. (The only notable exception to that rule is Branagh’s Hamlet. And North’s To Be or Not To Be, which I have yet to read in its entirety/play through.)

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Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Eve Best
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Joseph Millson, Samantha Spiro, Billy Boyd, Stuart Bowman, Gawn Grainger, Finty Williams, Philip Cumbus, Moyo Akande, Cat Simmons, Jess Murphy
Seen on: 15.9.2015

Plot:
Macbeth (Joseph Mills) and Banquo (Billy Boyd) just fought successfully for King Duncan (Gawn Grainger) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches (Moyo Akande, Cat Simmons, Jess Murphy) who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Samantha Spiro) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

My recent experiences with Macbeth were all retellings. In fact, I don’t actually think that I ever saw a straight-up version of it before. How great is it, then, that this production of the play was extremely close to perfection?

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Othello

Othello
Director: Iqbal Khan
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Hugh Quarshie, Lucian Msamati, Joanna Vanderham, Ayesha Dharker, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, James Corrigan, Scarlett Brookes, Brian Protheroe
Seen on: 26.8.2015

Plot:
When Iago (Lucian Msamati) doesn’t get the promotion he expected from his superior, Othello (Hugh Quarshie), but instead has to watch the younger Cassio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) getting promoted above him, he decides to have his revenge on Othello and Cassio. He uses the people around him to make Othello insanely jealous of his wife Desdemona (Joanna Vanderham). He spins intrigue after intrigue and, as can be expected, things don’t end well.

Othello is basically the classic play about race relations and since it was done many times already, people like to switch it around. The last time I saw it [if you don’t count the re-write I saw] (which was many years ago and still has one of the most mind-boggling casts I ever saw on stage), everybody but Iago and Desdemona was a person of color, this time they made Iago black to see what changes. And while I like the thought of that experiment, I didn’t like this production of the play. It was way too boring.

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