Saturday, 16 July 2011

Theatrical Interlude 11

Being Shakespeare, Trafalgar Studios, July 2011

This one man show nearly passed me by, if it hadn't been for a friend blogging about it (here) and then a programme on Radio 4 I would have missed a real treat.

Thanks to working part time and I didn't miss out and instead had a day on my own in London seeing a piece of amazing theatre.

While I didn't have quite the same experience as my friend I was still blown away by Callow's performance. The play is just under 2 hours long and in it Callow takes the seven ages of man as listed in the play As You Like It and tells us of Shakespeare's life using quotes from his plays and poems.


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

I have to confess that I don't know many Shakespeare plays well. Romeo and Juliet was the only play I studied at school and since then I've not seen an awful lot. This didn't matter, and I will now be seriously searching out, reading and watching many more.

My abiding memories of this performance will be Callow playing both Romeo and Juliet during the balcony scene and when he played all the parts of the Pyramus and Thisbe scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. It takes real talent for one man to act many parts at the same time well and making each one distinct.

I would urge you all to see this show but it closes on July 23rd so you'll have to be quick. I will now be looking for revivals of Callow's shows about Wilde and Dickens.

Another thing I learned from this trip is that it is okay to go to the theatre alone, not quite so pleasant as with friends as you have no one to chat to after the show, but still fine. Now to scour the listings for other things not to miss...

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