Richard II

BBC4 has just broadcast a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II from the Globe Theatre in London.

It was, of course, a repeat (ba-dum-tish).

Last September it was transmitted live from the globe, but I didn’t see it then. I didn’t see most of it this time either, having not spotted it in the schedule despite it hijacking over three hours of prime time. BBC4, you see. Just a bit off the beaten path.

Grumble grumble, surely this is the sort of thing you used to get on BBC2? Well, no. Apparently nobody can remember anything like this being broadcast before: an attempt to accurately recreate a gen-yoo-ine Shakespeare “experience”, including men in drag for the female roles, and the company jig at the end (Shakespeare’s equivalent of the closing credits, which, reminiscent of some of today’s blockbusters, could take up to forty minutes).

I only saw the last hour and a half, but it was fantastic. Real, proper acting, with real, proper actors, not square-headed soap zombies Ross-Kemping across the stage monotonically hawking their upcoming albums.

I did of course watch the “interactive” version, which turned out to be the same thing but with some subtitled commentary. A bit like doing O-levels again, but without the essays, schoolboy acting, or sitting next to Nev Fountain.

For shame, in watching a four-century-old play I missed “Rail Cops” on BBC1, “World Darts” on BBC2, “True Crime” on ITV1, and “Shattered” (AKA “Watch people not sleeping”) on Channel 4. However will I cope.

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