THE SHREW MUST GO ON; The Royal Shakespeare Company arrives in Newcastle next week. Young Reviewer MILES MORGAN previews the shows after a visit to the company's home in Stratford upon Avon.
SHAKESPEAREAN vibes of mistrust and resentment are set to dwell over Newcastle as the RSC returns to the Theatre Royal next week.
Shakespeare's darkly comic The Merchant of Venice and, often regarded as his most controversial play, The Taming of the Shrew, feature a talented company of veteran RSC actors along with several promising thespians making their debuts with the highly prominent company.
In the former play, Angus Wright makes a welcome return to the RSC after a nine-year absence to portray the wealthy moneylender Shylock, while Georgina Rich, a RADA graduate whose previous credits include the role of Baby in the stage production of Dirty Dancing, makes her RSC debut as the affluent heiress Portia.
With director Tim Carroll at the helm, this menacingly comic play takes a contemporary approach to the challenges of friendships being tested to their limits, loves being analysed to a serious degree and many other equally powerful matters.
Meanwhile over in the latter play, director Conall Morrison explores the sexual politics of marriage, takes the play at face value and does not shy away from its controversial nature.
Michelle Gomez, right, (Sue White, Green Wing) makes her RSC debut as the unruly Katherina after being inspired by Green Wing costar Tamsin Grieg's past RSC performan ces.
Gomez describes the play as "a battle of the sexes - made credibly pertinent by how, 400 years on, we're still discussing matters of such depth".
Playing opposite her is veteran actor Stephen Boxer who also makes a return after nine years away to play the ostentatiously brutal Petruchio.
Described by Gomez as the "Mick Jagger of Shakespeare", Boxer has spent the last nine years enjoying the fantastic variety the industry has to offer and is thrilled to be returning to the RSC to take on a role which he describes as "a man who pushes social norms and takes the male and female relationship wounds to the extreme".
A talented and experienced musician, Boxer's role promises to make use of his supremely gifted musical ability.
Also making their RSC debuts are actors William Beck, Amanda Hadingue, Patrick Moy and Jack Laskey while veteran RSC actors James Garnon and Leonard Fenton (Dr Legg, EastEnders) return once more and take on roles in both performances.
After experiencing the privilege of a preview in Stratford upon Avon, I'd be surprised if the exciting approach, the talented actors and the superb direction of these plays aren't enough to lure you away from your homes and into the theatre.
As Michelle Gomez accurately puts it: "Shakespeare is to be experienced - to be said, not to be read!"
Couldn't have said it better myself!
At a glance
RSC: The Merchant of Venice
October 7 to 25
Matinees: Wed Oct 8, 1.30pm; Sat 18 & Sat
RSC: The Taming of the Shrew
October 10 to 25
Matinees: Sat Oct 11, 2pm; Thu 16 & Thur
Log on to www.theatreroyal.co.uk for more details.
DARKLY COMIC - Adrian Decosta, Angus Wright, Sean Kearns and James Garnon in The Merchant of Venice; AT ODDS - Michelle Gomez and Stephen Boxer in The Taming of the Shrew