We saw this at Wyndham’s theater on Leicester Square last week. It starred David Tennant and Catherine Tate.
We’d seen Tennant in a version of Hamlet a couple of years ago (with Patrick Stewart), so we knew he was a good Shakespearian. I kind of suspected that the inclusion of Tate was just a bit of a gimmick though In fact, that was very far from the case. The two continued to display the chemistry that was at work in Dr Who, and I suspect that Tate could go on to have a fine career appearing in Shakespeare’s comedies (and possible his other stuff).
I continue to be amazed by what directors and actors (and everyone who’s involved in a production, I guess) can do to plays that are hundreds of years old to make them seem relevant and shiny new for modern audiences. Shakespeare set the play in Messina, but this production was set in 1980s Gibralter. So random, but so perfect.
The set was a rotating disk with four moveable pillars that could be moved to give shape to the stage, providing a handy foreground and background to the action. This set up gave the play a wonderful dynamism, as actors darted between the constantly (in certain scenes) moving pillars. In particular, there was one scene set in a club where the music pounded and the dry ice flowed. The spinning stage added tremendously to the sense of disorientation and confusion felt by the characters.
Shakespeare comes up with good comedic situations, and his dialogue has some great repartee and some wicked puns, but I was not expecting this, despite being a comedy, to be a particularly ‘laugh out loud’ experience. I was delighted to be proven wrong. There was fantastically inventive physical comedy whenever the scipt allowed for it, and there were some wonderful paralinguistic additions that were absolutely perfect. Writing about comedy always falls flat on it’s face (it probably slips on a banana), but I’ll just mention a particular ‘Yes’ from Tate which was drawn out into the most disgustedly sarcastic ‘yes’ I’ve ever heard.
Anyway. It was good. And I’ve just noticed that Dominic West is appearing in Othello. Let the Shakespearian-themed celebrity stalking continue!