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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Hollow Crown: BBC Shakespeare
Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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The first play - Richard II - had the ill luck to be on opposite the Murray-Bagdadis match, but it was watched in this house (ok, I checked the tennis on the iPad).

But I have to say I thought it was brilliant. Afterwards, there was a programme, presented by Derek Jacobi, which looked behind the scenes of the current production, and at past versions. I have to say Patrick Stewart was a better John of Gaunt than Gielgud IMO. And David Suchet a totally Poirot-obliterating York. There was an insightful bit by the current Richard on how he was influenced in a particular speech by Saif al-Islam. Rory Kinnear was Bolingbroke, and I thought did a convincing mix of decency, stupidity and ruthlessness.

It's Henry 4 pt 1 next week. With Jeremy Irons and Tom (Loki) Hiddleston as Prince Hal.

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iamchristianhearmeroar
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# 15483

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Watched it today on iplayer and thought it was absolutely fantastic. Wishaw maintained that weird ethereal nature that Richard seems to exude in the play. Suchet and Stewart both brilliant.

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My blog: http://alastairnewman.wordpress.com/

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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Suchet is a fantastic actor, saw him on stage once in a modern play inspired by the fall of Robert Maxwell. Poirot vanished in 30 seconds - I wonder if TV execs often fear casting him because of the connection, in which case they should have more faith, or if he just prefers to do more theatre.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Enoch
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# 14322

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Yes, I though it was excellent. So were the Pembrokeshire settings. IMHO if it doesn't leave you feeling exasperated and infuriated with Richard, it isn't being done right, and this certainly succeeded. For all the beauty of the triptych, one of our worst kings.

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Pigwidgeon

Ship's Owl
# 10192

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Sigh...

Maybe it will eventually cross the Pond as a DVD.

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
~Tortuf

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Sir Pellinore
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# 12163

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quote:
Originally posted by Think²:
Suchet is a fantastic actor, saw him on stage once in a modern play inspired by the fall of Robert Maxwell. Poirot vanished in 30 seconds - I wonder if TV execs often fear casting him because of the connection, in which case they should have more faith, or if he just prefers to do more theatre.

The TV series paid the mortgage; put food on the table etc. Like the late Paul Scofield, Suchet is a first class actor, first, last and always.

I hope it comes to Oz. [Votive]

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Well...

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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Heartily endorse what others have said about Suchet (York) and Kinnear (Bolingbroke). For me, Wishaw's Richard was very effective and wonderfully vain, but somewhat overshadowed by John Hurt's radio performance of many years ago. However, the old adage about the scenery being better on radio did not apply here - the setting really helped to make it. I especially liked the bit where Richard stands watching Henry's arrival before coming down to surrender to him. They also made good use of the crown as a prop - though am I the only one who thought it looked a bit like something out of Woolworths?

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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quote:
Originally posted by QLib:
They also made good use of the crown as a prop - though am I the only one who thought it looked a bit like something out of Woolworths?

I expect this was the original they had in mind - which is pretty blingy.
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Pine Marten
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I thought it looked absolutely beautiful, and agree about Suchet, Kinnear and Stewart. Ben Whishaw was wonderful as a fey, capricious Richard, mesmerising in the deposition scene - and he can convey so much with a flicker of his eyes. I was sad though that there were a couple of changes and quite a few cuts, including one of my favourite lines:

'See, see, King Richard doth himself appear,
As doth the blushing discontented sun
From out the fiery portal of the east
',

but the adaptation generally flowed along well, and was a great start to what I hope will be a very good series. I am not a tennis (unutterably tedious) or football (yawn) fan, and am delighted that Shakespeare in one form or another is all over our TV screens at the moment!

Some 8 years ago Mr Marten and I saw the then 23 yo Ben Whishaw play a heartbreaking Hamlet, whose youth and vulnerability brought me to tears.

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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Nenya
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# 16427

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Me! Me! I saw it too. [Big Grin] We're lucky enough to have two TVs so I could leave Mr Nen to shout at the tennis in the next room.

I thought it excellent. Evenings are not my good times and I'm often asleep in the chair by 9.30 so it says something that I saw it all and some of the Derek Jacobi programme too. The cast was very strong and I wanted to slap Richard round the head so all was as it should be. [Biased]

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Trisagion
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I agree with all the praise here. I thought it so good that my enthusiasm got my three teenagers to watch the recording yesterday and they loved. My daughter then watched the DVD of the Globe production and pronounced that Wilshaw was both more fey and more disturbing than Rylance. I'll have to watch the Rylance again - which I though brilliant when I first (and last) saw it - but she may be right.

I, too, loved the Pembrokeshire locations. Where was the beach in Act 3, Scene 2?

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ceterum autem censeo tabula delenda esse

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
It's Henry 4 pt 1 next week. With Jeremy Irons and Tom (Loki) Hiddleston as Prince Hal.

Thanks for that! I missed the Richard play, but Patrick Stewart is always worth watching. Suchet, although I've never liked him much, is usually good. I'll definitely look out for Henry IV, though the history plays have never appealed as much as Shakespeare's others.

Did anyone see the African-setting version of Julius Caesar? I saw about half of it - full of sound and energy, a passionate and credible performance.

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Pine Marten
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I recorded Julius Caesar but haven't managed to see it yet. It looks good, though.

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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Trisagion
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Ariel, the Julius Caesar was a real treat,I thought, and the dialogue had a real power because of the African staging.

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ceterum autem censeo tabula delenda esse

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Full Circle
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I saw Richard II and enjoyed it but was slightly confused by what I thought was a deliberate visual comparrison between Richard & Jesus. They had him dressed in white robes, riding on a small horse (donkey?) and opening his arms in a 1970's sundayschool picture manner as he lost his crown. Or was I reading things into the visuals that were not there?

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Beware the monocausal fallacy (Anon)

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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I wonder if that was to underline the courts belief in the divine right of kings - explaining something of their attitude toward him, and toward treachery. If he had been the son of one of the lords you know they would have beaten such fey pretty affectations out of him.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Full Circle
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quote:
Originally posted by Think²:
I wonder if that was to underline the courts belief in the divine right of kings - explaining something of their attitude toward him, and toward treachery. If he had been the son of one of the lords you know they would have beaten such fey pretty affectations out of him.

Thank you Think squared
That explanation makes alot of sense to me - I wish I had thought of it at the time!

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Beware the monocausal fallacy (Anon)

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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I think this production was showing Richard as someone well aware of stage effects -there are a number of deliberate poses , and there's a comment in the Radio Times about the number of portraits of himself that Richard had commissioned. So there's a kind of double irony: as he hand over the crown, he presents himself as crucified and, in a way, that's both arrogant and absurd - yet in another way it's true, or becomes true.

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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They certainly wrenched the ending about - in the text as written he kills two of his assassins with an axe before being taken down - in favour of the St Sebastian (patron saint of homo-eroticism) shooting full of arrows. Though of course deposed kings were traditionally left to starve, so that you didn't actually kill them. Technically.
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Gill H

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The Jesus imagery is there in the text, but they really underlined it; perhaps because until he's deposed you really have a hard time trying to sympathise with him. We don't have the little switch in our heads that says "Yes, but he's the king!" that the original audience would have had.

I spent quite a lot of time wanting to shout "Get over yourself, you drama queen!" at Richard. But then wanting to take Bolingbroke down a peg or two (which, of course, will come).

Patrick Stewart died too soon of course, but at least he got That Speech.

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- Lyda Rose

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Enoch
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# 14322

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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
I, too, loved the Pembrokeshire locations. Where was the beach in Act 3, Scene 2?

Whitesands, methinks.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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I managed to see some of Richard II last night but it was too late to see it all - so I'll have another go tonight.

Very good. Almost as if the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company saw A Game of Thrones and turned round and said "now see how its really done!"

quote:
Originally posted by Gill H:
The Jesus imagery is there in the text...

I think it was there in Richard's own political propaganda and portraiture. Look at this rather wonderful picture!

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Trisagion
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
I, too, loved the Pembrokeshire locations. Where was the beach in Act 3, Scene 2?

Whitesands, methinks.
The children agree and they spent most of last July there.

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ceterum autem censeo tabula delenda esse

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
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Next instalment - H4 pt 1 - Saturday at 9. Be very interested to see the locations; the on-site filming added so much to the last one. Plus, I have actually been to the battlefield of the Battle of Shrewsbury and have the souvenir hessian shopping bag to prove it.
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Gamaliel
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It was a terrific production. I loved it. A minor quibble, I thought the Welsh guys' costumes and woad owed rather too much to 'Braveheart'.

You wouldn't have had Welsh guys in woad in the 14th century ...

It's become Hollywood/TV shorthand for Celtic.

They might have had long, droppy 'tashes and shaven cheeks - as was the Welsh fashion back then - but otherwise they wouldn't have looked a great deal different to the English (or the Irish for that matter).

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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I don't think H4 has quite the narrative pull of R2. The cross- cutting (which was emphasised) between court and tavern can be disruptive as much as contrasting. Also, some (well, quite a lot) of the low comedy probably played better in 1597. The sugar gag. Not working.

The field of Shrewsbury was well done.

Overall, it's a play with a lot more shouty crowd scenes, which I find harder to follow these days.

I'll need to think about the production a bit more, and see what bits stay in the mind tomorrow.

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Pine Marten
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# 11068

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We've just watched the last half hour as it didn't come on until 10.05pm instead of 9pm because of the naffing tennis! I was too tired to watch it all last night. Grrr. I hate tennis.

Anyway - no, it doesn't have the narrative pull of Richard II, but I thought the father/son elements came over very well (both the King/Hal and the Falstaff/Hal), and I'm definitely warming to Tom Hiddleston's complex Hal, and it'll be interesting to see him grow into Henry V. The battle scenes were well done, and I liked Joe Armstrong's fiery Hotspur.

And it was quite a relief on the eye to get to Shrewsbury after all the interiors.

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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The actual locations are terrific - people inhabiting real castles just works so well. The Eastcheap set was good, but it was still a set (and for a medieval meat market, it eas hardly squalid enough. No flies for a start). I thought Julie Walters' Mistress Quickly had slight shades of Mrs Overall.

Another thing that was very filmic was giving a couple of soliloquies as voice over as the camera followed the character.

I didn't actually clock it was Simon Russell Beale under all those whiskers: he was a genuinely immoral Falstaff, a robber and swindler as well as the more genial liar, drunkard and fornicator

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Eigon
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# 4917

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I liked the Welsh scene - and doesn't Joe Armstrong look like his dad?
Also, I think I'm in love with Tom Hiddleston. He always seemed so much more intelligent than anyone else in the room (though I didn't get the sugar joke, either).
What got me, though, was the scene of the attempted robbery near the beginning, played for comic effect - and the contrast with the scene at the end of the battle with Falstaff, where it was all deadly serious.

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Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

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Trisagion
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I agree about Mistress Quickly/Mrs Overall. I also thought Simon Russell Beale looked like Bernard Cribbens.

Other than that, very good but not as compelling as R2, for me.

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ceterum autem censeo tabula delenda esse

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Pine Marten
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# 11068

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quote:
Originally posted by Eigon:

Also, I think I'm in love with Tom Hiddleston.

I first fell in love with him when he played Loki in the latest Avengers film - mmmm, <sigh>

PS - I seem to be following you around the threads at the mo, Eigon, sorry... [Hot and Hormonal]

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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Eigon
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# 4917

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Pine Marten - are you my long lost twin?

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Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
Other than that, very good but not as compelling as R2, for me.

Its not as good a play as Richard II.

They've got their good bits, no, better than that they are wonderful, but the Henry IV plays aren't quite as wonderful as Richard II or (in their very different ways) Henry V and Richard III (I don;t know enough about the Henry VI plays to know how they compare)

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Gee D
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# 13815

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As long ago as 1988, we saw An English Shakespeare Company's production of the histories from Richard II to Richard III, performed over 3 or 4 days. The only editing was (i) to Henry VI, reduced to 2 rather than 3 parts, and much the better for that; and (ii) to move the winter of discontent speech from Richard III to the end of Henry VI. Given that a few hours later, we were watching Richard III, this worked quite well. The approach was Lancaster good, York bad, which may or may not be your view of history but undoubtedly was Shakespeare's.

I cannot now remember the names of the cast, but the producer was Michael Bogdanov. A very Globe Theatre approach to staging - we knew we were in Gloucestershire because there was a park bench and a wheelbarrow on stage; a throne showed we were in London and so forth. The setting was from about 1820 to 1938 or so. The very last scene was an early TV studio, with an announcer telling the audience of Henry's victory, then a pan to the new royal family, Henry very ostentatiously wearing a wedding ring. The army was seen off to France by a mob of soccer hooligans, with signs saying "Fuck the Frogs" and so forth.

An excellent and memorable performance by a scratch company. Perhaps it's available on DVD?

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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In a vaguely related way, we went in search of the Field of Towton yesterday - and found it. Having the recreation of Shrewsbury in mind, it was easier to reimagine the windy uplands being trampled by the armies of York and Lancaster. The local history society have done a very good job of signing a trail round the battlefield. And then you can go back to the village and down a pint of Battlefield Ale at the Rockingham Arms.
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Pine Marten
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# 11068

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Sounds like an excellent day out, Firenze. They've done a huge amount of archaeological work at Towton, and much good information has come out of it about this terrible, bloodiest of battles and the men who died there.

Eigon, if, like me, you live half your life in the Middle Ages then I'm sure I am [Cool] !

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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Gill H

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# 68

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I studied this play for A Level years ago, but although we were told the 'back story', it didn't really click. It makes so much more sense when you know why Henry tries so hard to keep the crown, and resents his son for taking it for granted because he hasn't had to 'work for it'.

The early soliloquy in the tavern was chilling. "I know these guys are scum, but when I reform it'll be great for my image.". That's you off my Christmas card list, Hal.

The robbery scene really brought out that these aren't just loveable rogues, they're willing to rob people for fun.

I did wish Hotspur would take the chip off his shoulder, but that's the character. And a lovely contrast with Glendower's mystical pretensions. (Oh, and 'Lisa Lan' was beautiful, by the way.)

This was the first version I have seen where I was gripped by the political scenes, instead of wanting to be down the pub with the guys.

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*sigh* We can’t all be Alan Cresswell.

- Lyda Rose

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Eigon
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# 4917

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Well, I am off to Hereford Historical Day with my medieval spinning on Saturday, Pine Marten! (that's if the weather is half way decent).

I remember the production with the football hooligans causing quite a bit of controversy at the time - I think some people felt Shakespeare should be handled with more respect.

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Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

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Pine Marten
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# 11068

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Shakespeare is so brilliant he can take pretty well anything, including football hooligans (and instead of football peeps should be concentrating on practising their archery!).

Have a good time, Eigon, we've off this morning for a few days with my friend in Ledbury, and we're all going (weather permitting) to Tewkesbury on Saturday or Sunday for the Medieval Festival...lovely stuff!

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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Gee D
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# 13815

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The hooligans (and the other idiosyncrasies of the production) showed the real timelessness of Shakespeare and his themes, far wider than the political line he took. And for us, it worked, unlike the productions of Barry Kosky.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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Laurelin
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# 17211

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I am loving The Hollow Crown. [Smile]

Ben Whishaw was brilliant.

I was surprised that Patrick Stewart didn't have a bigger part in Richard II, but boy oh boy did he make it count. [Axe murder]

(I was fortunate enough to see him in a storming, and truly nightmarish, production of Macbeth on stage in 2007. He was amazing, as was Susan Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth.)

Tom Hiddleston is GORGEOUS. [Devil] Loving him as Prince Hal, I think he is very well cast. [Smile]

I don't think I've ever seen Jeremy Irons as good as he was as Henry IV.

Simon Russell Beale brought quite a dark edge to Falstaff.

Second part of Henry IV tomorrow, and I am really looking forward to Henry V.

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"I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor." J.R.R. Tolkien

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Laurelin:
I was fortunate enough to see [Patrick Stewart] in a storming, and truly nightmarish, production of Macbeth on stage in 2007.

I've seen him appear with the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon twice [Smile] . Once as Prospero in The Tempest, and once as Claudius in Hamlet. And he wasn't even the biggest crowd-puller appearing in the latter!

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Laurelin
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# 17211

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Ha. [Smile] Tennant and Stewart on stage together = [Axe murder]

I saw Patrick 30 years ago in 'A Winter's Tale' ... long before Star Trek: TNG! Heh. And before that I remember him from the spectacularly gory I, Claudius ... which I watched at the age of 14!

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"I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor." J.R.R. Tolkien

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Ariel
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# 58

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Finally managed to catch part of Henry IV, part II. What a performance. I've never been interested in the history plays, but this had me glued to the screen. It's pure quality. Each of the characters is a real, credible person, and Jeremy Irons is up there with the greats. [Overused] Can't wait for the next instalment.
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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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Yes, I thought this was fantastic and really makes the point that Henry IV part 1 (which I studied as a complete play at O level) truly is only half a play. I wish we'd read them together and I wish I'd recorded them both, so that I could watch them one after the other. It strikes me that, although Richard II is very striking, these are much deeper, richer, and more complex, and this is partly, but not solely, because of the central figure of Prince Hal. Looking forward to Henry V enormously.

[ 15. July 2012, 08:18: Message edited by: QLib ]

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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Just watched both Henry IV plays, and very good. As televised Shakespeare, probably the best I have ever seen. The use of real sets adds real life and charisma.

I guess it is heavily cut, but has to be for TV. I thought the cross-cutting edits worked pretty well.

The cast superb. Beale's Falstaff I found mesmerizing, capturing both the fundamental dishonesty and the pathos.

Jeremy Irons excellent, and also Hiddleston.

In Part I, the role reversal scene was played with great panache; what a great theatrical scene this is, one of the best in Shakespeare.

I also note that the speaking of verse is so much better these days; no longer the declamatory stance, a la Gielgud, but a more naturalistic style, which makes difficult lines seem clear.

Top marks to the BBC, which should be doing productions like this. Come on, guys, how about doing all the plays?

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Eigon
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# 4917

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The BBC did do every single play as a series, some years ago. There were some very famous actors in it, too. Maybe it's time for a new generation of actors to show what they can do.

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Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

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Laurelin
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# 17211

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The newly crowned Hal's public rejection of Falstaff was really sad. [Frown]

I don't think I've ever seen such a fine performance from Jeremy Irons as Henry IV. Such powerful acting. You could see the guilt (at how he won his crown) eating away at him.

Henry V next week! [Smile]

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"I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor." J.R.R. Tolkien

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Old Hundredth
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# 112

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Having been caught out in the past by live sport overrunning and wrecking the schedules, I allowed for it when recording, and how glad I am that I did. This is what the Beeb does best, they should leave the tacky talent shows to the commercial channels and also stop dumbing down (I still haven't got over the disappointment of the dismal coverage of the Jubilee river pageant).

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If I'm not in the Chapel, I'll be in the bar (Reno Sweeney, 'Anything Goes')

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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Half way through Henry IV pt I. Beale very good but they do seem to have cut all Falstaff's jokes and insults, while leaving in all of Hal's. You're left with a rather one-sided view of Falstaff - you can't quite see why Hal enjoys being with him.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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