Saturday, July 15, 2017

Breakout Shakespeare

After seeing the Donmar Warehouse's intriguing verbatim musical The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall's Relationship with Kids Company (check out this musically-informed review by one of its MP subjects), I got a second dose of Josie Rourke's Donmar with their cinema broadcast of Phyllida Lloyd's Julius Caesar this week.

Thrillingly, the whole cast is female, with the framing device that the show is being staged by a drama group in a women's prison. The Donmar collaborated with arts charity Clean Break, which also contributed two graduates to the company.

This is the first of a "Shakespeare Trilogy" with the same concept – I managed to see the second, Henry IV, on stage in 2015 – and when The Guardian calls it "one of the most important theatrical events of the past 20 years," I thoroughly agree. It fruitfully disrespects not only the gender line, but the colour bar, and class and regional-accent silos as well. What if this weren't a one-off, but part of a sea change in how brave we're willing to be in our make-believe?

All three productions will be broadcast, but no dates are listed yet for Canada. (Get a move on, Cineplex!)

In New York earlier this year, the cast recorded videos to give more voice to their prison characters: