Entertainment Theatre in review: Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors and Pride and Prejudice

16:29  29 july  2021
16:29  29 july  2021 Source:   theweek.co.uk

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  Theatre in review: Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors and Pride and Prejudice © Provided by The Week

Last week was a“catastrophic” one for theatre, with several shows, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new Cinderella musical, falling victim to the “inflexible” rules on Covid isolation, said Ben Lawrence in The Daily Telegraph. So the opening night of Ian McKellen’s “age-blind” Hamlet at Theatre Royal, Windsor, felt like a double “act of defiance” – against the ravages of the pandemic, and the passing of the years.

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At 82, McKellen proves “extraordinarily lithe”: as he “ran up the metal steps in Sean Mathias’s quasi-industrial production, the years seemed to fall away”. Yet his aged voice – “rich and oaky, sometimes pedagogic” – works against the age-blind conceit.

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I wasn’t troubled by that, said Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. In an often brilliant performance, McKellen gives us “a prince of all – and any – time and age”. But the production overall is “bumpy”. Elsinore lacks specificity and danger, several of the key relationships are flat and unconvincing, and the “final tragedy leaves us unmoved” (until 25 September).

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a man wearing glasses talking on a cell phone: Despite being a favourite among critics, The Vast of Night went largely overlooked by audiences, due in part to a criminal lack of marketing from Amazon. But those fortunate enough to discover this hidden gem were rewarded with the rare sci-fi film that has an “intergalactic scope,” yet is also “an intimate, character-driven film.”

The RSC’s new staging of The Comedy of Errors was about to open (indoors) in March 2020 when the pandemic intervened, said Mark Lawson in The Guardian. Sixteen months on, it is finally being staged, but outdoors – launching a new Stratford season in a pop-up “Garden Theatre”.

This amphitheatre-style space works a treat. And Phillip Breen’s staging is glorious: “exhaustingly funny”, but also touching on “deeper distresses about identity and reality”.

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The fast-paced production has “more than a touch of madness, but its energy and inventiveness prove just about irresistible”, agreed Clive Davis in The Times. There’s a “winningly resourceful” cast of fine comic actors; a splendidly over-the-top 1980s “Day-Glo” aesthetic; any number of funny set-pieces and sight gags; and a director determined to wring comedy from “every word and every comma” (until 26 September, then touring).

Deborah McAndrew’s “brisk and witty” adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, at the Grosvenor Park Open Air theatre in Chester, is a “playful” and “romantic” treat, said Mark Fisher in The Guardian.

The actors, who repeatedly break into song, “respond to the outdoor setting with a breezy sense of fun”. There’s a nice double from Perry Moore as both “buttoned-up” Mr Darcy and “preening” Mr Collins, and a “grotesque” Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Howard Chadwick.

But the glue that holds the show together is Suzanne Ahmet’s excellent performance as Elizabeth Bennet. She brings great charm, humour and spirit to the part – and makes us truly believe that Lizzie’s “independence of mind is worth fighting for” (until 30 August).

'An exceptional comedic talent': Tributes paid to British dance band star Mary Lee for 100th birthday .
She was one of Scotland’s brightest stars during the interwar period, performing before Queen Mary and topping Vera Lynn in a Melody Maker poll, only to step back from a glittering musical career to raise her family. © Scottish entertainers Peter Morrison, Jack Milroy and Mary Lee (centre) at the King's theatre in Edi... Now tributes have been paid to Mary Lee – the last known surviving vocalist of the British dance band scene’s heyday – as she celebrates her 100th birthday today.

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