Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Review of The Pembroke Players’ Japan Tour group’s presentation of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the presbytery of Ely Cathedral on 8th September 2016

September 11, 2016

This group, more than any other I have witnessed lately, gets to the heart of Shakespeare: his words. With absolutely clear diction, dynamic action and minimal props and scenery, this fine group gave us Shakespeare’s play in a nutshell: the tale of two young lovers from opposing enemy families.  Nothing was lost with cutting the cast to the bone, leaving out the male heads of the households for example, for Shakespeare was not averse to strong women and the matriarchal heads of families, Lady Capulet (played by Dolores Carbonari) and Lady Montague (Lola Olufemi) certainly held their ground. The young and good-looking lovers were well represented by Ciarán Green (Romeo) and Emma Corrin (Juliet). Some of the other particularly notable characters were Nurse (Yasmin Freeman) and Mercutio (Justin Blanchard) who spoke and moved confidently and charismatically about the stage keeping us thoroughly enthralled. Paris (Will Bishop), Benvolio (Katura Morrish ) Tybalt (Toby Marlow), and Friar Laurence (William Ashford) were also highly creditable characters helping the plot move to its dramatic end. The additional modern feel of this production, especially the wonderfully choreographed dance to music out of Shakespeare’s time, added spice to this impressive production.

Congratulations to director George Kan and his team Tour Manager Romilly Beddow and Technical director Charlie Jonas for such an exceptional performance.  If this is any indication, their tour of Japan should be highly successful.

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Review of CAST’s production of ‘As You Like It’ in Ely Cathedral on Wednesday 24th August 2016

August 28, 2016

The University of Cambridge American Stage Tour presented a delightfully entertaining production of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ in Ely Cathedral presbytery on Wednesday.

These highly talented performers captured our hearts from the start and we could relate perfectly to the characters ranging from the lovely Rosalind (played by Amy Malone) and love-stricken Orlando (Joe Pitts) to the well matched Touchstone (Ryan Monk) and Bawdy Audrey (Megan Gulbert). Every character was true and the reactions to each other’s speeches were particularly impressive.

The witty Shakespearean language was delivered with astute, expressive timing while scenery costumes and mannerisms of the characters were brought up-to-date without ever losing the high quality of Shakespeare’s twists and turns in his witty script and complex plot.

The ingenious stage tableaux, especially the sheep scene and the beautiful highly appropriate music (by Jamie Felton) had us transfixed.

Special moments for me were the realistic fight scene at the beginning of the play when Orlando attacked his brother Oliver (Alasdair McNab), when Celia (AliceCarlill) expressed  such  disdain by  casually reading a book, ignoring the intricate games the lovers around her played and the MacDonald’s picnic. Only a highly successful group such as this would get away with such a scene.

This excellent group will begin their American tour in September.

For more information contact http://www.castcambridge.com/

Review of ‘Much Ado about Nothing’  presented by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men in the Old Palace Gardens, Ely on Wednesday 08th June 2016

June 25, 2016

Much do The Lord Chamberlain's Men June 16 The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a vibrant company of talented actors, entertained an enthusiastic audience in the grounds of The King’s School Ely, with a hilarious and witty production of ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ by Shakespeare.

The show was in fact ‘All about Everything’: love, war, humour, tragedy, loyalty, trickery, revenge … the list is endless. This was possible because it not only met the watchwords of the new Artistic Director, Peter Stickney, which were: authenticity, excellence and magic, it swept us off our feet with its clear quips, impassioned characterisation and amazingly swift costume and character changes.

As in Shakespeare’s time, all parts, including the beautiful ladies, were played by men and in this production they were played so well that it did indeed seem appropriate for the drama.

Benedick (played by Jordan Bernarde) and Beatrice (Oliver Buckner) were excellent opponents in the battle for the wittiest put down at the beginning of the play and finally passionate devotees at the end, when marriage plans were afoot.

The shenanigans relating to Claudio (Nathan Coenen) and his desire for the beautiful Hero (Jon Tozzi) created many antics on and off stage that led to a catastrophic cancellation of their marriage, much to the horror of hero’s father Leonato (Matthew McFetridge). The wicked instigator of a cruel injustice was Don John (James Lavender) and his lackeys Borachio (Jon Tozzi) and Conrade (Joshua Meredith). James Lavender also played a delightful constable Dogberry whose frequent verbal slips had the listeners roaring with laughter.

Other vital contributor to this fantastic production included Musical Director Alex Beetschen, Movement Director Darren Royston, Costume providers Polly Laurence and Katherine Newbury, Vocal Coach Jacquie Crago and set design Morgan Brind.

Review of CAST’s production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ in Ely Cathedral on Thursday 27th August 2015.

August 29, 2015

Cambridge American Stage Tour, established in 2000 under the patronage of none other than Dame Judi Dench,  is a group of talented actors, directors, designers and technicians from Cambridge University (UK) who band together to produce a play to take to schools and universities in America.

Under the directorship of Kennedy Bloomer, 9 cast members delivered Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ in Ely Cathedral on Thursday night, revelling in the frolics and trickery with tremendous enthusiasm and energy.

The familiar plot was ever present. Petruccio (played by Toby Marlow) decided it would be a worthwhile business proposition to marry Kate for her dowry.  He ranted and railed like a wild man shocking even the feral Katherina (Kate Reid) until she became a submissive and obedient wife as planned. As he was working towards this achievement, other suitors were freed to compete for the hand of her beautiful but cunning sister Bianca (Julia Kass).  In a bid to claim her affections the suitors adopted delightfully eccentric guises and invented wonderfully exotic schemes to satisfy the much tried father Baptista (Sarah Mercer) that one of them was worthy enough to gain Bianca’s hand in marriage.

Needless to say, everything seemed to go wrong, but as events propelled themselves towards the final scene, all was resolved and Petruccio and Kate won the day and were an example to them all. The speed and agility of the performers made it even more impressive when we realized most of the actors had three or so different roles to play.

There were some magnificent highlights: the determination of Petruccio, the facial expressions of Baptista, the camaraderie and ribaldry of the fellows, the hilarious ‘musician’ ‘tuning’ his instrument, the grotesque widow and her very reluctant partner, blokes tucking into a Take-away denying the poor starving Kate a single bite to eat: these were a few of the many memorable scenes in this highly entertaining production. Another amusing touch was the so realistic drunk who milled among the audience and pushed his way towards the stage to provide a novel way of announcing that it was the end of the interval.

The remaining remarkable members of CAST included: Will Bishop (playing Lucentio/Player/Servant), Aoife Kennan (Tranio/Curtis), Will Peck (Grumio/Bartholomew/Widow), Robbie Taylor Hunt (Horensio/Servant/Merchant) and Marco Young (Gremio).

This team should be a real hit in New York and Florida where it is next bound. The show returns to Cambridge in October and will be performed at the ADC Theatre from the 6th to the 10th of October.   To book seats: www adctheatre.com and for more information about CAST contact: http://www.castcambridge.com.

Review of Jekyll and Hyde produced by King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre at the King’s School Ely

March 22, 2010

This review has been commissioned by “Local Secrets” who are willing to allow you to post it on your website, provided you provide a link to “Local Secrets” – www.localsecrets.com

 (Local Secrets is an online guide to eating out, going out and shopping based in Cambridge. It covers Cambridgeshire and Bury St Edmunds. My reviews will go on their website and in their Monday magazine email which they email to 25k readers each week.)

Jekyll and Hyde produced by King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre Ely was no ordinary production. With sophisticated awareness, these fine performers captured exactly the spirit and the age of Dr Jekyll and his obsession with the good and evil of man. Director Nick Huntington inspired this company to present a show that was worthy of considerable acclaim and was a testament to the talent and dedication of its youthful cast.

Jekyll and Hyde (Sam Graham) metamorphosed from a dedicated doctor to the epitome of evil with realism, his acting and singing prowess in no doubt. One of his most unforgettable moments was when he was alone on stage, his two personalities in battle. Sudden changes in timing, stance, gesture, voice, breathing and tone emphasized the contrast of the good doctor and the evil monster within that his experiments with chemicals and his hypocrisy had revealed. The lighting effects here were particularly impressive.

Emma (Lydia Crussell) was a beautiful much troubled fiancée, Lucy (Lexi Hill) a delectable lady of the night and John Utterson (Dan Simmons) a credibly concerned ally. There were a host of other splendid characters that helped to highlight the endemic hypocrisy of their society: Sir Danvers Carew (Lawrence Perkins), Simon Stride (Jack Riordan), Sir Archibald Proops QC (Will Oliver), Lord Savage (Ollie Hill), General Lord Glossop/Spider (Rob Atkinson), Lady Beaconsfield (Isobel Leventhorpe) and The Bishop of Basingstoke (Harry Ixer). Poole (Sally Cheng), Jekyll’s father (Eddy Kronberg), young men (Andrew Payne and Will Chandler),  Bissett the Apothecary (Kirill Rybkin) , Newsboy (Sophie Emms) and Nellie (Sarah Foss), the showgirls and chorus were additional performers that moved the plot along splendidly, their fine clear voices and lithe actions adding spice to dramatic events.   

The music was first rate. The singing was particularly tuneful and moving, the orchestra (directed by Graham Griggs) of professional standing even when out of sight backstage. Some of the most moving numbers included Lost in the darkness, Letting Go, This is the moment, Someone Like You, Once upon a Dream, A New Life and Confrontation.

 Amazing, versatile sets, seamless stage managing, excellent lighting, sound and effects, admirable costumes and moments of captivating choreography all helped to make this mammoth production well worth attending.

Future King’s School events to enjoy include:

Summer Term Showcase Monday 26th Aprilk 2010, 7.30p.m. and Thursday 13th May, 7. p.m. (free)

Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors in the Priory Gardens 5th and 6th July 2010 at 7 p.m.  (free)

Contact: for more information about King’s Company, contact the Director of Performing Studies, Adella Charlton, adellac@kings-ely.cambs.sch.uk

About other King’s School Ely events: boxoffice@kings-ely.cambs.sch.uk tel: (01353)653939