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The Two Noble Kinsmen – The Royal Shakespeare Company – Swan Theatre REVIEW

“Midsummer’s Nights Dream meets Fight Club” may be one of the more intriguing tag lines I have come across. Intriguing is probably an appropriate word for the whole play.

This play was very classic Shakespeare, but with a heavy dose of progression.  There were many elements of the much loved Shakespeare, from the classic technique of keeping characters silent and static on s


There were certain actors that carried through the relationships between the cast, these shone out and I fell in love with them much more than all the others. Emilia, in particular, the love


Both Palamon and his cousin were the axis the story revolved around, with everything from looks and build to characteristic and idiolect in common.  The danger lies in their conflicting love for Emilia. They quickly go from friend “We are on another’s wife” to foe “I saw her first, hands off!” Their use of space and levels allowed for hilariously choreographed scenes when they were inprisoned and when their disagreement came to a head in a comedic dual.

Palamon stole my heart, his expression and way of speaking was more straight forward and simpler yet the layers of pace, tone and intonation had clearly been thought through. It allowed me to get lost within his speech and believe every word he said, gestures reinforcing his words along the way. He didn’t need to do the classi


The set was bare but essential, with floor to ceiling wires holding mesh metal panels for the actors to climb and use as jail walls. The staging was appropriate with entrances and exits from trap doors, stairs up from the back of the stage, from aisles leading into the shallow audience. All this movement kept what could have been a static play, pleasantly lively and upbeat.

Something I observed as the play went on is how you can slowly tune into the language used. For example, at the start a conversation is had about how three wives wanted the correct burial rituals for their husbands, I for one found it very tricky to follow what was happening in the scene. Later on, I could recite the storyline of the play no problem, perhaps cause I was more invested in the characters or because I was used to the language. I am convinced that the long rambling monologues in  the first scene slowly straightened themselves out and shortened in length, or maybe I just was tuned in.

Seeing the play was a lovely way to celebrate end of a year commemorating 400 of Shakespeare. The abstract themes, were a little overwhelming for such a classic storyline, but I think the execution was perfect creating an interesting and unique play.

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