Titus Andronicus

The defining moment for me, listening to this recording of Shakespeare's first tragedy, came during Act III Scene 1, as Aaron the Moor presents Titus the opportunity (actually a gruesome prank) to save the lives of his sons by offering the emperor his own hand as a sacrifice. William Devlin as Titus and Tony Church as…

Henry VI Part Three

One of the high points of The Wars of the Roses, John Barton's adaptation of the three parts of Henry VI, was Queen Margaret's speech to her followers as they approached King Edward's army at Tewkesbury for their final face-off. Having just lost the forces of the great Earl of Warwick as well as that…

Henry VI Part Two

Henry VI Part Two is not a very good play. I wish it were, because in broad outline the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III together sound great. Late medieval England rips itself to pieces, split by war, a weak government and a power-mad aristocracy. The downward spiral churns ever faster as the…

Henry VI Part One

He appears in a prequel which could just as easily have been written without him; he stays too long, he talks too much and he accomplishes absolutely nothing. Lord Talbot is the Jar Jar Binks of Shakespeare's history plays. For his Wars of the Roses adaptation, John Barton trimmed Talbot's role, and for An Age…

Biography – Michael Bates (1920-1978)

One of the Argo Shakespeare Project's luckiest breaks was obtaining the long term participation of comic actor Michael Bates as a kind of Shakespearean clown in residence. Bates would later become a constant presence in TV and film, most memorably as Field Marshall Montgomery in Patton; as the barking martinet who helps re-program Alex DeLarge in…

The Taming of the Shrew

In my younger days, the fashion was for directors to try to squirm out from under this play and its distasteful display of a man gradually wearing his wife down into pitiful obedience. They would either go into denial and have Kate wink at Petruchio and the audience as she "pretended" to submit or make…

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

I think the people who best appreciate Two Gents are those who, like me, have been through the mature comedies of Shakespeare too many times. Beautiful, wise, charming, witty Portia/Viola/Rosalind dresses up as a boy and acts as catalyst for noble but naive Bassanio/Orsino/Orlando's actualization as an adult male worthy of her graces. The Two…