Summer's Shakespeare

30th June 1995 at 01:00
London is awash with set book Shakespeare this summer. At the National Theatre, Fiona Shaw portrays Richard II as a capricious child, thumb-sucking for comfort when contemplating the death of kings.

Deborah Warner's joust-shaped acting area in the Cottesloe, with seats on either side of the action, emphasises the theatrical, medieval, ritualistic nature of the play without any danger of lapsing into heritage-England charm. Shaw's gender is soon irrelevant, but her child-king never provides the weight to balance David Threlfell's pragmatic but sympathetic Bolingbroke. (0171-928 2252).

Stella Gonet triumphs as Titania and Isabella in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Measure for Measure, both Royal Shakespeare Company transfers from Stratford to the Barbican. Adrian Noble's Dream combines signatures from Brook (a trapeze) and Lepage (lightbulbs) while making it entirely his own. Ravishing, jewel-coloured silk costumes for the lovers, earth-bound fairies and hilarious Mechanicals led by Desmond Barrit's Bottom make this a magical production. Steven Pimlott's Measure for Measure has an uncharismatic Duke (Michael Feast) who seems more intent on testing his own authority than that of Alex Jennings' strait-laced Angelo. Meanwhile, the RSC's Tempest is at the Young Vic, directed by David Thacker in tandem with Edward Bond's play about Shakespeare's last days, Bingo. (0171-638 8891) Another Dream, directed by John Doyle is in rep. with Brian Cox's Richard III at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park (0171-486 2431).

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