The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1353 Monday, 22 August 2005
Date: Saturday, 20 Aug 2005 01:09:53 -0700
Subject: Making King John a Play Worth Watching
NYT reviewer Ben Brantley makes the Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, Mass.)
production of 'King John' sound like a production worth watching. "Ms.
[Tina] Packer, the founder and artistic director...is known for the
exuberance and heightened clarity she brings to the canon, presenting
its texts through a sort of theatrical magnifying glass. And for her
first attempt at 'King John,' she starts off in a confident burst of
energy and comic exaggeration. That she is unable to sustain it says as
much about the play as it does the limitations of her approach...
"Ms. Packer is juggling seemingly contradictory elements in this
production, which runs in repertory with 'The Taming of the Shrew'
through Sept. 3. In this sense, she is taking her lead from the text,
which has had scholars and directors scratching their heads for
centuries. For though 'King John' has passages of ravishing insight and
lamentation, it lacks an obvious center. (When John Barton directed it
for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1974, he felt the need to
interpolate lines from other sources to clarify the play.) It's as if
Shakespeare didn't find John all that compelling and kept shifting his
focus to others - most notably, the Bastard, the illegitimate son of
John's brother Richard, and an alternately amused and appalled observer
of the ways of the political world..."
More at http://theater2.nytimes.com/2005/08/20/theater/reviews/20shak.html
BTW it looks like the only KJ that's available on video is the BBC's
1984 production, directed by David Giles:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087559/ That was, I thought, stilted and
unimaginative and had ghastly sets to boot. (An artifact from film
history is a three-minute 1899 silent with Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
playing the dying king: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0000247/)
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