If you are ever in Somerset and find yourself in need of a picturesque, historical pub that serves good food and some real ales, you might try the Lowtrow Cross Inn. It doesn’t quite date to Shakespeare’s time, but the name “Lowtrow” does have an association with the Battle of Agincourt which, of course, is central to Henry V. (The pub’s website gives all the details on that.)
It’s in the village of Upton, about 15 miles west of Taunton, and on the edge of Exmoor. In addition, the Inn is now offering Bed and Breakfast at £65 per night (bookings can be made through the Lowtrow link above). It’s a great place to stay.
There’s a new production of Othello at Stratford-upon-Avon starring Hugh Quarshie as Othello with Lucian Msamati as Iago. The review in the Observer indicates there are some rather strange directorial and acting choices. For a fuller and more considered review, there’s this one in the Independent. The production runs until 28 August.
If you are interested in details of productions of Shakespeare’s plays on the London stage from 1 January 1890 through 31 December 1959, check out http://www.jpwearing.wordpress.com. A series of calendars provides what plays were performed, where, and by whom. Bibliographies of reviews, commentaries, and other useful information is also provided.
Alan Cumming stars in a very different production of Macbeth that received a standing ovation on opening night in Scotland. He plays most of the roles aided only by two other actors, as described by this review in the Daily Telegraph. According to the review, the production will also be seen later in New York.
And don’t forget to check out The Shakespeare Diaries.
There’s a very interesting interview of Derek Jacobi as he prepares to play King Lear in London. After the London, the production will tour the British provinces and then end up on Broadway in 2011.
The plague and letters!! Not to mention fate and coincidence. The fact that Shakespeare feels the need to include this explanatory scene does rather indicate that he himself was somewhat conscious (even uneasy?) with his own plot manipulation. An explanation is more or less necessary, I suppose, but that in itself points to the mechanical nature of the contrivance. However, it should not be forgotten that in Elizabethan times the plague was a major factor in people’s lives (not to mention their deaths), and so his audience would probably have accepted the circumstance readily. And letters too have been known to go astray. Moreover, the device is a common one in literature. Tess’s letter of explanation to Angel Clare in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles slips accidentally under a carpet, with ultimately dire consequences. Paula Tanqueray in Arthur Pinero’s play The Second Mrs Tanqueray offers her letter explaining her chequered sexual history to her future husband–chivalrously, he declines to read it, again with dire consequences. Even Bernard Shaw, who ridiculed the device, resorts to a letter in Arms and the Man: Bluntschli’s father has died (conveniently), leaving Bluntschli with a fortune that allows him to propose marriage to Raina. Plot resolved. Whether all this bothers an audience during the performance of a play really depends upon each individual member of that audience, but probably everyone has experienced an “if only . . .” moment in life.
Check out The Shakespeare Diaries.