Julian Fellowes (who wrote one of my favourite films ‘Gosford Park’) is in hot water over comments he made about understanding the language of Shakespeare. He’s filmed a version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ where he’s changed the language, but for the people at Shakespeare’s Globe this is apparently insulting because ‘”Shakespeare’s for everybody. We can all understand him.”‘ Fellows has basically said he wanted to make it accessible to everyone, no matter their level of education or if they feel they’re not able to understand the language because they weren’t “trained to”.
I thoroughly disagree with the Globe that you don’t need to make anything accessible and if that’s truly what they believe then they’re misguided, not Julian Fellowes. Many people do find Shakespeare inaccessible and the Globe should support every effort to make Shakespeare accessible, or to show people it isn’t boring nonsense (though admittedly, I do think ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is one of the most boring plays I’ve ever had the misfortune to read or see performed.)
I don’t like Shakespeare and part of it is the language which I find hard to follow and at times completely impenetrable. This has led to my decision to avoid any further degree study of Shakespeare because I don’t feel I can write suitable levels of analysis because I just don’t understand most of what I’m reading. You could easily argue that it’s because I’ve not seen it performed, which is true I’ve only seen productions of ‘Macbeth’, ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘A Winter’s Tale’ and ‘Othello’ (‘Othello’ was at the National Theatre so it was a good production) – but I have the same lack of comprehension with Thomas Middleton, Christopher Marlowe and Aphra Behn but I don’t struggle with Molière or Samuel Beckett (neither of which I’ve ever studied, just seen performed) who are apparently hard to understand.
If it was entirely true that “we can all understand” Shakespeare, why are there hundreds of books available which will help you understand the plays? Last time I was in a bookshop there were many side by side translations of Shakespeare, Shakespeare for Children and similar all available, as well as hundreds of guides.
So, Globe Theatre:
Presented by Rumpus Theatre Company at the Greenwich Theatre.
‘Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Fear’ by John Goodrum (adapted from ‘The Final Problem’ by Arthur Conan Doyle). Staring Nicholas Briggs as Holmes and Ian Sharock as Watson.
“When Holmes arrives unexpectedly at the door of his olf friend and colleague Dr Watson he begs the good Doctor’s assistance for one final case…and an exhilarating evening of mystery, chase, disguise and detecting are the inevitable result, culminating in a breath-taking showdown at the tumultuous Reichenbach Falls. The world’s most successful detective takes on the world’s most notorious villain…
Sherlock Holmes, brilliant, flawed and inclined to justice, finally confronts Professor James Moriarty, brilliant, flawed and wholly inclined to evil…”
Tuesday 2nd October – Sunday 7th October
Tues – Sat @ 7:30pm, Sun @ 6pm, Sat mat @ 2:30pm.
Tickets £17.50, £15, (concessions) £12.50
‘Or You Could Kiss Me’ sounds very good on paper; Handspring Puppet Company in collaboration with author Neil Bartlett in a unique story of a life-long South African couple’s journey to the end, told with puppets. Unfortunately, it only sounds good on paper and unlike some reviews I’m putting equal blame on Handspring and Neil Bartlett. In the programme Bartlett talks about the initial development, rather than a conventional script this was devised as a vehicle for the puppets – it’s a if someone said “we’ve got these puppets…” ,the National jumped at the chance and Neil Bartlett saw the opportunity to send an entire auditorium of people to sleep in his almost steam of conscious ‘play’ (unlike Beckett, Bartlett doesn’t have the talent to pull this off). Due to the scripts failings, it was hard to appreciate the puppets as there seemed no reason for them to be puppets, it made it difficult to find the emotional as there wasn’t anything to connect with and there were so many people involved in ‘intimate’ moments the intimacy was completely lost.
The play runs for 1hr40, without an interval (probably to stop people leaving at the halfway mark). A thoroughly disappointing production, made more so because it had so much promise.