18/08/2010

SHAKE ... SHAKE ... SHAKESPEARE!

Shakespeare prints from Zazzle
Shake, shake, Shakespeare! Don't worry, I haven't started stammering like Horatia (the heroine of Georgette Heyer 's THE CONVENIENT MARRIAGE I've recenlty read, listened to and reviewed - HERE).  I'm just playing with another of my passions; Shakespeare. I've been actually shaken by Shakespeare these days.
I've even tried to create special graphics for this post. Do you like it? Nice,  isn't it? You can create your own, too, at Zazzle
I never have enough of genius Shakespeare and I was surprised by my very positive response to  these modern adaptations of his masterpieces because , usually, I'm not so very fond of modernizations. I've been watching 3  BBC productions of William Shakespeare's plays; Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth
First I saw the brand new addition to my DVD collection, a co-production Royal Shakespeare Company/ BBC:   HAMLET (2010). Well - worth the money I spent! One of the best adaptations of Hamlet I've ever seen (and I've seen many,  both live and on DVD).
Gripping, tragic, funny at times and utterly absorbing. David Tennant's Hamlet is outstanding.  The rest of the cast are incredibly good, especially Mariah Gale as Ophelia - her madness is superb - and  Patrick Stewart  an unforgettable Claudius.
Gregory Doran's direction, the staging, lighting, RSC costumes & the breathtaking acting  make this an awesome piece of work. Effectively transferred from stage to screen keeping true to the minimalist but evocative sets, this is likely to become  the definitive Hamlet of the new generation and loved for years.

I especially appreciated the  leitmotiv of the camera surveillance: Hamlet's life is watched, he is not free and never really alone. Prisoner of a claustrophobic Elsinore, prisoner of his destiny. Then the symbolic presence of mirrors, prevailing in more than one scene, underlining the theme of reality / appearance. If you love Shakespeare's Hamlet, you can't miss this, though I agree with those who think that to see this fantastic production at the theatre would have been definitely magic.




In 2005 BBC produced 4 of Shakespeare's plays in a re-told modernized version. The series was called SHAKESPEARE RETOLD now available on DVD. This is the official site on BBC.
I laughed a lot, and for the first time, watching THE TAMING OF THE SHREW starring Sherley Henderson  and Rufus Sewell. I simply loved them: they are the most amusing and bizarre Katherine and Petruchio I've ever seen! In this adaptation Katherine Minola is a succesful politician, tipped for the leadership of her party. The only problem is, her awful temper has left her a 38 year old singleton, and everyone, from her party chairman to her sister, wants her to get married. An eccentric, fascinating , broken gentleman will propose to her and she will accept ...but just have a look at their wedding day







Unbelievable! I've always disliked this misogynistic, sexist, chauvinistic story but this time I could  but enjoy myself with no second thoughts.  Excellent re-telling by Sally Wainwright.

From this DVD, I also re-watched after long time, the re-telling of Macbeth, one of Shakespeare bloodier and gloomier tragedies. And bloody as well as gloomy this version is. Stellar cast and tense atmosphere for the tragedy of ambition and greed.   
Set in a three-star restaurant owned by celebrity chef Duncan Docherty (Vincent Regan), with Joe Macbeth (James McAvoy) as the sous chef and his wife, Ella (Keeley Hawes), as the MaƮtre d'. Joe and his fellow chef Billy Banquo (Joseph Millson) are annoyed that Duncan takes credit for Joe's work, and that Duncan's son Malcolm (Toby Kebbell) has, in their opinion, no real flair for the business. Then they encounter three supernatural binmen who predict that Macbeth will get ownership of the restaurant, as will Billy's children.
Joe and Ella are inspired to hire Eastern European hitmen to kill Duncan, but the binmen subsequently warn that Macbeth should be wary of Peter Macduff (Richard Armitage), the head waiter. MacAvoy/Hawes are an incredible good match and Richard Armitage , in the smallish but important role of Macduff is as impeccable as usual.

12 comments:

TeeTotallyNot said...

+headslap* now I know what I had (also) meant to do.. bought that DVD months ago (found out DT had played the melancholy prince by chance and had to have it) and still haven't watched more than the occasional scene (particularly the ones with Patrick Stewart..who unfortunately too often gets defined by his starhip captain)
Must make time. Also to re-watch Macbeth - was quite fascinated the first time, I quite like modern Shakespeare adaptations. Remember a late 90s version, Macbeth on the Estate.. with Ray Winstone as Duncan...very modern.
so between work, shallow endeavours, football & Shakespeare - short nights to come methinks. Thanks for reminding me though :)

jenny @ Kerrfect! said...

I LOVE the Shakespeare-told series, I have them on DVD! Another good one is the BBC's modern day version of the Canterbury Tales!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@TeeTotallyNot
Hi, Teena.
Glad we share so much!By the way, I like your new blogospace! Thanks for passing by and commenting!
@Jenny@Kerrfect!
Hello! So glad to hear from you, Jenny! I hope you're fine and thanks for the tip. I'll try to get the BBC Canterbury Tales. Hugs!

phylly3 said...

I bought the Shakespeare Retold DVD this spring and watched Macbeth right away, but I wanted to watch it again with my son, who enjoyed studying that play in highschool. We haven't done that yet, so thanks for the reminder! He'll be going back south to return to University in a couple of weeks, so I'll really have to get on that!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@phylly3
Enjoy your mother/son re-watching! How nice! My sons would never do that ... they only love football and action movies! Thanks for your comment, P.

Ruth said...

David Tennant was AMAZING as Hamlet! And I LOVE the ShakespeaRe-Told series - The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing are my favorites in that series.

Jenny@kerrfect! said...

I know I haven't been commenting like I should, but I do READ your posts! I subscribe so I get them in my iGoogle reader. They are great as always! I see we are both reading the same book! I've only got about 4 chapters left! lol

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Ruth
I want to see Much Ado and Midsummer Night's Dream from the series, then I'll tell you what my favourites are... So far, The Taming of the Shrew wins on Macbeth. Yep! You got it right. Despite RA as MacDuff!
Thanks for your contribution, Ruth.

@Jenny@kerfect!
OMG , Jenny! I hope it didn't sound as a reproach. I was just very happy to hear from you again. I'm glad you still like my posts and that we share the same curiosity for The Pillars. I want to read it before watching the series, only... I'm still reading chapter 4!!!

Traxy said...

I've recently watched Shakespeare Retold as well. :) Got it for my birthday. Very good productions all around! Not a lot of RA, sadly, but what there was was really great! Hope you have a good weekend. :)

Judy said...

I loved the David Tennant/Patrick Stewart 'Hamlet' when I saw it on TV at Christmas, but definitely agree it would have been amazing to see it on stage. My daughter has also just been listening to a BBC radio adaptation of 'Much Ado About Nothing' with DT as Benedick - she says he was excellent but the rest of the cast of that one weren't really up to his standard. Anyway I hope to listen to it soon!

I borrowed the 'Shakespeare Retold' box set from the library a couple of weeks ago but only watched 'Macbeth' and 'The Taming of the Shrew' - must admit I didn't really like either of these updatings, despite the great casts. I missed Shakespeare's language! Anyway, hope you are having a great weekend, MG.:)

tyme_4_t said...

I am so glad you enjoyed DT's Hamlet!! I had a strong feeling you would!

I did borrow Shakespeare Retold just to originally see RA in MacBeth - So glad I did! I enjoyed all the adaptations!

I do have another recommendation for you MG (and well anyone else who reads this fantastic blog) - "Slings & Arrows" tv series. I love it! It is set in Canada and stars Paul Gross (yumm yumm) It's about actors, Shakespeare, ghosts, love, success, failures, politics, money, fame, fortune, theatre life...it really is a great series.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@time_4_tea
"Slings and Arrows"? I feel like I already like it! I must find it! Thanks you so much!