BBC/RSC Live Anniversary show

Did anyone else watch the BBC’s RSC Live show last night?

To be honest, I’m really glad I didn’t recommend it to my students.  There was a youngish girl stage-side who I spotted ferociously yawning twice in the first half.  The first time, the cameras cut away at the speed of light, probably in embarrassment.  I’m guessing that would have been a general reaction at my school.  It felt like they were trying too hard to be politically correct, and in terms of popularising Shakespeare, I felt they did themselves no favours in putting the ‘high art’ on early …

David Tennant looked like Lucio in Measure for Measure once he was found out by the Duke – so uncomfortable in the compère role of something which quickly began to turn into a simpering Royal Variety slurpathon.   I can’t say I blame him.

Things didn’t really get going for me until ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from ‘Kiss Me Kate’.  I sensed some engagement and fun in the audience, and then we moved onto the ‘To be or not to be’ sketch.  I liked it more than I thought I would – one thing it DID do was show the infinite malleability of Shakespeare’s language.  I often find myself shouting at a screen ‘No, no, no – that’s NOT how you read that line’, so it tickled me, and I was intrigued to find Prince Charles get in on the act.  It must have really appealed to his Goon Show mentality and sense of humour.  He had the good sense not to take a major role, and didn’t destroy it.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, being the ‘converted’.  Some of the songs were especially good, I thought.  I wonder how many new Shakespeare fans it made, though?

A final observation – in a pretty stellar cast, I was really surprised to find no place for Patrick Stewart or Derek Jacobi …  Anyone?

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