2016 sees the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and also brings some exciting Royal Shakespeare Company productions to London.
Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, which has rarely been performed in the twentieth and twenty-first century. It focuses on Queen Cymbeline, who rules over a Britain which is divided and deeply in trouble. After the death of two of her children she is left with one heir, Imogen, who marries her lover Posthumus in secret, enraging her mother and leading to his exile. What follows has been billed as a “[mash] up a variety of different Shakespeare stories (Hamlet, Othello and Romeo and Juliet to name a few)” by the RSC website. Gillian Bevan is playing the titular role, and is the first woman to take on the role for the RSC, and is being directed by Melly Still.
Cymbeline will be performed at the Barbican theatre until 17th December 2016.
The story of King Lear is well known – a king who is becoming increasingly aware of his impending mortality attempts to decide which of his daughters to leave his kingdom to. The ensuing fallout leaves Lear desperate and alone, as his daughters feud and battle for their entire inheritance. A tale of the fall of a vain man, and of family manipulations and machinations, this RSC production of King Lear is directed by their Artistic Director, Gregory Doran. It also stars Anthony Sher, who previously played Willy Loman in an RSC production of Death of a Salesman in 2014.
King Lear will be performed at the Barbican until 23rd December 2016.
Love’s Labour Lost and Much Ado About Nothing
These two productions are being performed in repertoire with one another, having been performed in a 2014 run at the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The plays are staged in the early twentieth century. Love’s Labour Lost is set in 1914, and centres on the comedic vow made by the King and his friends to avoid the company of women for three years; while Much Ado About Nothing places the action in Autumn 1918, as soldiers Benedict and Claudio return from the trenches, reuniting them with Beatrice and Hero in a post war party. The modern settings use World War One as a looming background to each production, adding colour and a sense of sadness to these two high spirited comedies.
Love’s Labour Lost will run from at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 12th December 2016 to 18th March 2017, while Much Ado About Nothing will be performed fro 9th December 2016 to 18th March 2017.
Alternative Option – The Tempest
If you’re looking for something different, why not book to go and see The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. A trip that should be made by any Shakespeare lover at least once in their life, the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre is a magnificent location, and you can combine your trip with a visit to Shakespeare’s house. As a bonus, this production of The Tempest features veteran Shakespearean actor, Simon Russell Beale, in the role of Prospero, returning to the RSC after twenty years. Directed by Gregory Doran, this production is created in partnership with intel, and promises to be “a bold reimagining of Shakespeare’s magical play, creating an unforgettable theatrical experience.” The merging of theatre and technology, along with a fantastic central actor, makes this a production worth making the trip for!
The Tempest runs at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon until 21st January 2017.