I went to the cinema yesterday to see “Shakespeare Live”. The RSC homage to the Bard on the 400th anniversary of his death.
A friend of mine saw it back in April and commented that it was very much like the curate’s egg. I pretty much have to agree with her. It was good in parts, mediocre in some, and downright terrible in others.
However, good, bad, and mediocre are subjective, so I’ll just dwell on the parts I truly loved and leave it to others to make their own minds up.
In my view it was an inspired choice to have the production hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate, who were the RSC’s most popular Benedick and Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing”. They work well together and were obviously enjoying themselves.
Catherine did the “Seven Ages of Man” speech, which worked very well.
Dame Judi Dench made a wonderful Titania from “A Midsummers Night’s Dream”. I love the fact that the RSC will not be bound by convention.
Sanjiv Bhaskar and Meera Syal gave wonderful performances as Benedick and Beatrice from “Much Ado About Nothing”. I would love to see them in a production of the play.
Roger Allam’s performance of Lear’s ‘blow winds’ speech was powerful. Roger is constantly under-rated as an actor. He has one of the most glorious voices.
Some of the music was very good too. Rufus Wainwright has put some of the Sonnets to music. The one he sang was beautiful to listen to. I shall have to see if it is available on CD. It is something I would listen to for sure. Alison Moyet provided music to Shakespeare’s song “Sigh No More”, which was hauntingly beautiful.
For me, and I suspect, for many others, was the ‘To be or not to be’ sketch. A young actor begins to declaim the speech only to be interrupted by other actors trying to instruct him how to do it. Starting with the very funny Tim Minchin. Benedict Cumberbatch’s entrance during this sketch was greeted with massive applause. Tim Minchin’s confusing him with Eddie Redmayne was hilarious (“I loved you as the Danish girl”). David Tennant, Ian McKellen and others all adding their ten cents worth. But the high point was Prince Charles appearing on stage to declaim the first two lines of the speech. Brilliantly done.
All in all, “Shakespeare Live” was a fitting tribute to the man who has given the English speaking world so much.