Cambridge Shakespeare, Autumn 2004.

Michael Grosvenor Myer

Myer, Michael Grosvenor. Review of Cambridge Shakespeare, Autumn 2004. Early Modern Literary Studies 10.3 (January, 2005) 14.1-3 <URL:>.

  1. Not that much going on this term. I was in hospital so I missed the University American Tour Company’s As You Like It at the ADC. And I had once, fifteen years ago, made the mistake of wasting an evening at the Criterion suffering the inane, facetious ennui of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and wasn’t about to go through all that again. Astounded to find them on the Arts programme in November: I mean, I grudge nobody an honest living, but can they still be going? Blimey. Somebody must find them funny, I suppose; but it beats me. (Looking at my Guardian Guide, I find they’re still at the Criterion. Double blimey!)

  2. And not much else came around — except , if it counts and I’m not even sure about that, Tom Stoppard’s original Edinburgh Fringe hit from all those years back, the basis of his fame and fortune. I’m not that much of a lover of these works based on foregrounding subsidiary characters from someone else’s masterpiece: Wild Sargasso Sea and Mrs De Winter and all these Pride and Prejudices from Georgiana Darcy’s POV or Mansfield Parks from Mary Crawford’s or Emmas from Jane Fairfax’s leave me cold (though I must admit that I can’t get too much of Flashman). So I have never altogether warmed to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, even when they were John Stride and Edward Petherbridge, with Graham Crowden (or, in another version I saw early on, Nigel Hawthorne) as The Player King. Would a student production, even if it was an ADC main show, do anything for me forty years on?

  3. Well, yes, actually; slightly to my surprise I was quite stimulated by the evening. Director Victoria Scopes had skilfully imposed worthwhile production values on her company: articulacy, good movement, and variable characterisations, especially in her two leads, Tom Secretan and Benjamin Deery. The court and players took their places to provide just the right puzzling and equivocal atmosphere. Some longueurs remained. It’s a somewhat patchy play: I still found that where it works it fascinates, but where it doesn’t it fails to interest even to the extent of making me worry; I prefer to switch off till things wake up again. These, let me stress, seem to me factors in the writing rather than the production, which I sum up as a well-up-to-standard university offering.

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© 2004-, Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).