Theatre review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Sunday June 26 2022

FOUR STARS

The first production in this year’s summer season sets off a double celebration for Bard in the Botanics. Having endured the many challenges wrought by the pandemic, the company, led by Gordon Barr, the artistic director, is marking its 21st anniversary in style, with its first full programme in three years. As well as revisiting its much-admired 2013 production of Much Ado About Nothing, the company moves beyond its Renaissance comfort zone with a fresh take on Euripides’ Medea.

Continue reading “Theatre review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow”

Review: Antony and Cleopatra – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday June 25 2018

Four Stars

“Star-cross’d lovers” is the theme of this year’s Bard in the Botanics, and in its pair of opening productions, the annual Shakespeare festival offers up the perfect complement of innocence and experience in tragic love.

 

Jennifer Dick’s production of Romeo and Juliet features a 13-strong cast performing against an al fresco backdrop while, at the other end of the botanical gardens, Gordon Barr stages Antony and Cleopatra beneath the glass roof of the Kibble Palace. It is an instructive pairing, reminding us of Shakespeare’s delight in recycling patterns of events in his plays. The latter couple may steal a march on the former in terms of erotic and worldly experience, yet both pairs of lovers die by their own hands, believing death infinitely preferable to life without their soul mate.

Continue reading “Review: Antony and Cleopatra – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow”

Review: Twelfth Night – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday June 30 2016

Three Stars

While cross-dressing is central to the plot and resolution of a number of Shakespeare’s comedies, Twelfth Night occupies its own league as a comment on gender construction and elastic sexuality. The female protagonist spends most of the play dressed as a pageboy, inadvertently stirring the passions of a woman who has forsworn all male suitors while simultaneously harbouring a secret love for a nobleman. Talk about progressive.

Continue reading “Review: Twelfth Night – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow”

Review: Richard II – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Friday July 24 2015

Four Stars

In recent years, Bard in the Botanics, Scotland’s annual summer Shakespeare festival, has complemented its programme of full-scale outdoor productions with one radically pared-down adaptation, performed by a handful of actors in the Kibble Palace glasshouse. Last year’s ambitious reworking of Henry IV Parts I and II, performed by a cast of just three, was a powerful, drum-tight account of Prince Hal’s relationships with his two parental guides, his father the king and feckless Falstaff.

Continue reading “Review: Richard II – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow”