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Reviews - 2010 shows


Review: Czech Republic Shakespeare Festival
by James Walling, Prague Post

"The best the festival has to offer tends to be peopled by ambitious newcomers like the recently formed GB Theatre Company..."


Review: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Arundel Castle
by Emily-Ann Elliott, The Argus

Cackling with laughter, Stacey Roca and Naomi Cortes perfectly depicted the Merry Wives Of Windsor. Performed in the grounds of Arundel Castle, Shakespeare’s suburban comedy was brought to life by the GB Theatre Company.

Alexander Delamere played a faultless fool in his role as Sir John Falstaff trying to seduce Mistress Page and Mistress Ford.

The play’s many puns were reinforced by physical comedy, including exaggerated gestures and facial expressions, especially notable when Mistress Ford’s jealous husband disguises himself to prove his wife’s unfaithfulness.

The company had excellent comic timing, with the best scenes including those in which Falstaff got his comeuppance after being thrown into a dirty laundry basket and dressed in women’s clothes.

The wives’ trickery was played out alongside the suitors of Anne Page, a plotline which added its own comedic moments.

Gabriel Thomson, who has starred in the British sitcom My Family, was great in his role as the French Dr Caius, as was Andrew Mathys as the clueless Slender.


Review: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Norwich Cathedral
by Eve Sterling, Eastern Daily Press

Bawdy and full of laughs - what would the monks think?

"Have I lived to be carried in a basket, and to be thrown into the Thames?" The downfall of the legendary money-grubbing lecher made great watching in the cloisters last night.

A perfect sunset turned the stones from orange to deep blue and the seagulls wheeled overhead as a relaxed and large audience settled down to enjoy thier night with the best that English heritage has to offer: the bard on one hand and Norwich Cathedral cloisters on the other. If, however, the Norwich monks read The Merry Wives back in the days of Shakespeare, they must have tucked the racey verses in the secret recesses of their cassocks: this is not a play for the faint of heart, (or queasy of stomach). But the bawdy slapstick and broad effects so characteristic of the goings-on in and around the Garter Inn, made great outdoor theatre.

Big effects had us in stitches: there were scenes played under table cloths and Punch and Judy style knockabouts, Falstaff even pawed the ground as a stag at bay complete with antlers.

There were no weak links in the 13 strong cast, but it was Alexander Delamere as Falstaff who really wowed me, fresh from his role as Mr Braithwaite in Billy Elliot at London's Victoria Palace, his good natured and enormous presence saw to it that his character had the last laugh after all.


Review: As You like It at Norwich Cathedral
by Christopher Smith, Eastern Daily Press

Plot thickens time and again - just as we like it

Under the greenwood tree, if you believe what you are told, or under the massive spire of Norwich Cathedral if you prefer to trust your eyes, the strange eventful story of As You Like It is played out by the GB Theatre Company, stopping in Norwich on its summer tour of the UK and parts of the continent.

Simple staging, Elizabethan costumes and plenty of music give substance to this rigmarole of dynastic squabbles, banishment from court and exile in the forest. Put in some cross-dressing to add lovers' complications, and everything is set up for such a feature of Shakespeare's comic style, Hey nonny nonny!

David Davies is Jaques, the melancholic man who makes us laugh by hating laughter himself while he speaks all sorts of deep truths.

He makes the rest of the cast seem deliciously shallow. Gabriel Thomson is Orlando, showing his pluck and a bare chest in the wrestling match and striking some grand gestures as love gives him confidence to pursue Rosalind (Lucia McAnespie).

She has vigour and resourcefulness, which brings out the contrast with her friend Celia (Suzannah Hampton) who contrives to remain lively though she is more staid in nature.

The plot is thickened time and again, the conclusion is delayed, but when it comes there is a fine sense that everything has come together as the shades of evening fall. So what could be more natural than the final dance?


Review: As You like It at Girton College Cambridge
by Virginia Newman, Cambridge Agenda magazine

... great audience interaction with the cast made for a fresh performance ... the off-the-telly famous faces did well to escape the personas you’d automatically associate them with and made confident performances. Both Matt Milburn as Oliver and Gabriel Thomson as Orlando were dashing in their delivery. Andrew Mathys, playing Amiens and Sir Oliver Martext, showed great talent on the violin and was a real entertainer. David Davies as Jacques assumed the character seamlessly, and was thoroughly entertaining... Another strong performance was delivered by Lucia McAnespie as Rosalind, who led the cast with captivatingly witty, mischievous expressions. Expect to hear more from this newly formed classical troupe, with autumn and Christmas performances planned.


Review: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Ramme Gaard, Norway
by Inger Merete Hobbelstad, Oslo's Dagbladet

"...the Ensemble creates a cheerful, funny production, full of heat and energy"

"...a vitamin supplement to the Norwegian theatre. GB Theatre at Ramme Gaard Shakespeare Festival gets the audience member to laugh, relax, put his arm around one another on the way home and talk about how funny it was"

"A play with great clarity in action packed theme"

"Alexander Delamere's Falstaff enters the ladies trap with wide-open all round eyes like a bearded child"

"...the humanism; understanding man's ensurety provides a reason for laughter rather than despair"

CLICK FOR FULL REVIEW IN NORWEGIAN

Review: As You like It at Trinity College Dublin
by Peter Crawley, The Irish Times

Beginning in the stuffy corruption of the court, from which our main characters are unjustly expelled, the play moves to the pastoral fantasy of the Forest of Ardennes, a world of simple outdoor living where, as Andrew Mathys’s balladeer sang with his face upturned, there is “No enemy/ But winter and rough weather.”

Beset by one of those enemies, who seemed to be plotting to reinstate the other, the audience laughed at every meteorological mention. But it thickened the achievement of Neil Sheppeck’s production, one whose thorough understanding of the play and brightly engaged cast made every line accessible and relevant. In truth, it’s hard not to side with any show that has its actors strip to the waist and wrestle on wet cobblestones. And though Sheppeck’s treatment was hardly more daring than a heritage costume drama, like the rural living of the play, it had a deceptive simplicity that disguised a more subversive streak.

It is, after all, a drama of mind-boggling gender games. Here, the commanding Lucia McAnespie played an exiled daughter (Rosalind) who disguises herself as a man (Ganymede) who then pretends to be a woman (Rosalind again) so that her would-be lover, Orlando, can practice his seduction on her/him/her. The audience found themselves in a similarly slippery game of role shifting as the play’s action shifted from the court to the forest while the playing space moved from the square to the theatre.

We pretended to be indoors while outside, then imagined ourselves outside while indoors. It was a little thing, a happy accident, that made you see Shakespeare in literally different lights. While the production lost some of its amperage when shoehorned and quietened for Players, this is the work that famously asks us to see reality and fiction enmeshed. “All the world’s a stage,” says David Davies’s richly lugubrious Jaques, “and all the men and women merely players.”

SEE FULL REVIEW

I just wanted to say well done on a super production of AYLI last week in Trinity College as part of the Dublin Shakespeare Festival. It was an excellent performance by all that I saw on Friday and myself and friends, like pretty much everyone there, really enjoyed it. There was a great sense of pace and wonderful comic timing throughout.

Do come over to Dublin again!


All the best,
Dr Stephen O'Neill

Lecturer in English,
School of English, Media and Theatre Studies,
National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

Review: As You like It at Trinity College Dublin
by Katie Byrne, Dublin's Evening Herald

The GB Theatre Company took a literal view of that oft-quoted line "all the world's a stage" from the Bard's As You Like It. They performed in the open-air of the Front Square of Trinity College, right under the Campanile.

As You Like It follows Rosalind who, when forced to flee the court by her uncle, Duke Frederick, adopts the guise of a man and hides in the Forest of Arden, where she encounters her exiled father and the man she fell in love with before she was banished.

The emphasis here was on comic timing, necessary when you're trying to draw laughs from a play that was penned in the early 1600s. Tragedy is tragedy but comedy evolves. However, a woman masquerading as a man and a pantomime-style multiple wedding finale just doesn't hold the same appeal for modern audiences.

The challenge, now, is for each actor to imbue their character with a modern sense of comedy and the cast delivered this in spades.