Theatre review: Twelfth Night – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday July 13 2021

THREE STARS

Spontaneous applause breaks out at the announcement welcoming everyone to the new season of Bard in the Botanics. It has been nearly two years since audiences last gathered on the grassy rise behind the glasshouses in the Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, for the venerated Shakespeare festival.

As a specialist in outdoor performance, this company, led by Gordon Barr, the artistic director, may have an advantage over its contemporaries as theatre in Scotland slowly emerges from its Covid-era hibernation.

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Review: Hamlet – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Saturday July 27 2019

Four Stars

It was only a matter of time before Nicole Cooper, a linchpin of the Bard in the Botanics ensemble, was invited to play the Dane. Having spend a decade with Gordon Barr’s company, showing her mettle in a range of roles, from Rosalind in As You Like It to last year’s Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, her progression in the past couple of seasons to the title roles in Coriolanus (for which she won the Best Female Performance at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland) and Timon of Athens has seemed entirely inevitable.

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Review: As You Like It – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday July 4 2019

Four Stars

Shakespeare’s great pastoral comedy is a gift for outdoor performance. Who needs elaborate stagecraft when you have trees and foliage and natural light? The last time Bard in the Botanics staged As You Like It – back in 2012 ­– the shift from the court of Duke Frederick to the Forest of Arden was achieved simply by moving the audience from one part of the gardens to another.

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Review: The Taming of the Shrew – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday June 27 2017

Three Stars

Last year, Bard in the Botanics, Glasgow’s long-running outdoor Shakespeare festival, launched a new strand, Writing the Renaissance, showcasing the work of the bard’s lesser-known contemporaries. The inaugural production was a radical adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, whittled down to a fleet 90 minutes and performed by a cast of just three actors.

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Review: Love’s Labour’s Lost – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday June 30 2015

Three Stars

Love’s Labour’s Lost is one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies and its dizzying verbosity and baggy middle section does suggest a playwright still finding his fleet feet. That said, in the play’s depiction of a group of young lovers overcoming social hurdles, misunderstandings and mistaken identity to achieve a happy ending, one does find an early template, not only for the Bard’s great comedies, but for the enduring Hollywood screwball farce.

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