Thursday, December 18, 2008

Henry VIII, As You Like It, Coriolanus

Henry VIII: 7--A problem appeared with the assessment of this play. If I am marking only the production, then I could give it 9.75: and indeed, an American organisation has graded it as the first of all the BBC productions. Certainly, it is beautifully rendered and wisely acted. However, as a play it is very undramatic and I find it hard to believe that Shakespeare had a lot to do with it. Apparently a computer programme recently analysed this drama and concluded it was almost wholly Shakespeare's. My own ear tells me otherwise. If it is, indeed, almost entirely by Shakespeare then one can only marvel at the extent to which his powers declined in his final years. I give it 7 for the poor quality of the text itself. If the performance had also been bad, then I might have given it only 3 or 4.

As You Like It: 6--Yes, even less than my mark for Henry VIII. This is a fine play which is here undone by some half-hearted acting and directing. Angharad Rees as Celia and Richard Pasco as Jacques are the only actors to rise to the occasion. Helen Mirren is too overbearing for the part of "sweet" Rosalind and her attempts to sound winsome utterly fail. Perhaps more cruelly, she is also too old for the part. The rest of the acting is, in a word, poor. Furthermore, the direction and costuming are both over the top.

Coriolanus: 9--A fine play, well-acted and directed. I saw Alan Howard perform the part of Coriolanus at Stratford in the mid-seventies and, over the years, he has come to be identified with this role more than any other. Of course, this is a hard drama full of pride, anger, war, and betrayal. The plot construction is tight, but there is little high-flying poetry in it. Perhaps the most telling defect is the difficulty the text faces an audience with in feeling any sympathy for the violent passing of the so-called Coriolanus, Caius Marcius.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a useful enterprise!

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Archibald said...

This is a useful enterprise!

8:41 AM  

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