Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

vice-versa-production-photos_-2017_2017_photo-by-pete-le-may-_c_-rsc_219662-tmb-img-1824

The full title of this play is actually Vice Versa (Or the Decline and Fall of General Braggadocio at the Hands of his Canny Servant Dexter and Terence the Monkey). And if that doesn’t give you the idea that you are in for a few hours of fun, laughter and daftness, then I don’t know what will.

The play is a new script by Phil Porter, described as ‘lovingly ripped off from the Roman comedies of Plautus’. The story revolves around the pathetic and self-deluded General Braggodocio, who has taken as his concubine the unwilling Voluptua. She, meanwhile is having a clandestine relationship with her true love Valentin, and the General’s servant Dexter has to hide the fact from her boss, while simultaneously scheming to get Voluptua, Valentin and herself out of the General’s clutches.

I can honestly say that from the moment the play started until the moment the cast took their final bows, I had a constant grin on my face, and it is no exaggeration to say that I laughed out loud genuinely and frequently – the whole audience seemed to share a real enthusiasm and found the play extremely funny.

Felix Hayes certainly had no qualms about sending himself up in the role of General Braggadocio, and was terrific in every scene. The whole supporting cast were fantastic too, with Byron Mondahl and Steven Kynman great as his two inept servants Omnivorous and Feclus. Ellie Beaven and Geoffrey Lumb also shone as lovers Voluptua and Valentin, and Nicholas Day was truly hilarious as Philoproximus Braggadocio’s neighbour who is complicit in the the double crossing). Special mention also to Kim Hartman who played a prostitute called Climax(!) However, the main plaudits surely have to be reserved for Sophie Nomvete as Dexter – not only did she have the job of tying the whole story together and keeping the audience involved, she also had the biggest role and the most dialogue – she never missed a beat, and the unpacking the shopping scene (watch the show! I don’t want to spoil this scene for you!) was incredibly funny, well written and brilliantly delivered.

This play actually holds the records for the most amount of props (244) used in an RSC production, and indeed they were brought out with frequency. The whole production was colourful and brash, with a lot of physical ‘slapstick’ style comedy as well as numerous double entendres and puns.

I loved the production and would happily have sat through it again straight away. I definitely recommend that anyone who enjoys a good solid belly laugh sees this production while it’s on!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Shakespeare’s goriest play is by no means his most popular one, and I can imagine that some people would find it too distasteful to watch (I had my reservations, initially), but as this production, directed by Michael Fentiman proves, it can be successfully brought to the stage.

Briefly the storyline concerns the titular character who has returned triumphant from the war against the Goths in Rome.  He slays a son of Tamora, queen of the goths, in revenge for his fallen soldiers.  She in turn urges her two remaining sons to rape Titus’s daughter Lavinia (which they do in the most horrific fashion, also cutting out her tongue and cutting off her hands so that she cannot identify her attackers).  Titus’s sons are then framed for this grievous crime, and executed.  When Titus discovers the truth, he swears revenge on Tamora and her sons, and – well, it’s safe to say he gets it, although it’s also safe to say that there are no real victors in this play, which ends in a bloodbath (a bloodbath that is as uncomfortably amusing as it is wince-inducing).  Sounds bloodthirsty?  It was, and at the time that it was written, there was a great public appetite for such plays, and Shakespeare was obviously happy to provide one.

This production certainly made me grimace on occasion, but it was extremely compelling and watchable, and even managed to include some dark humour – no mean feat in such a gory play.

Stephen Boxer made an excellent world-weary Titus, whose descent into madness is clear to the audience.  The rest of the cast were also superb in their roles, especially Katy Stephens as the vengeful Tamora, John Hopkins as a very amusing Saturninus, and Kevin Harvey as Aaron – a truly detestable, and strangely charismatic character!  Rose Reynolds was also heartbreaking as the tortured Lavinia, who never finds the happiness she is owed after her brutal attack, and the murder of her husband.

Titus Andronicus is not a play for everyone, and I would recommend that people are aware of the storyline before going to see it.  However, I found it extremely watchable (even if I watched some parts through my fingers!) with excellent performances all round.

(For more information about the Royal Shakespeare Company, or this production, please click here.)

Read Full Post »

In this classic movie, Audrey Hepburn is a princess (of a country which is never named), who comes to Rome on official business.  Despairing of her pampered lifestyle and lack of freedom, she escapes from her country’s embassy, deciding to explore Rome by herself.

She soon meets up with cynical journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who initially thinks she is drunk, but soon realises her true identity, and sees the opportunity for a great story.  Princess Anne does not realise that Bradley is a journalist, and he doesn’t reveal that he knows who she is.  Instead, he takes her to see many of the sights of Rome, and gradually their feelings for each other develop.  But Anne has duties to her country and knows that her pretend life as an ordinary citizen cannot last….

I watched this film for the first time, the night that I got back from a mini break in Rome, and I adored the movie.  Black and white films are not something I would normally choose to watch, but this was a true classic – amusing, incredibly charming and romantic.  Much like the two leads.  Peck and Hepburn on screen are like genetic perfection, and both of them are perfect in their respective roles.  (It was in fact Audrey Hepburn’s debut film, and she won as Oscar for her part.)  Peck is gorgeous, but he is world weary and while he is a decent and kind man, his only care initially is for writing an exclusive scoop on the princess – but his feelings change as he comes to know her.  Hepburn meanwhile is cute, innocent in a child like way and very funny, capturing the vulnerability and loneliness of the princess in her ivory tower, and infusing her character with a great deal of fun on her ‘day off’.  I defy anyone to watch this movie and not fall a little bit in love with her.  The setting of Rome is of course beautiful and lends the perfect backdrop to this romantic comedy.

Some movies become classics for a reason – this is one of them.  I only wish I had watched it a long time ago, but it has instantly become a favourite film for me, and one that I will watch again and again.

Year of release: 1953

Director: William Wyler

Writers: Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton, Dalton Trumbo

Main cast: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert

Read Full Post »