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The Royal Shakespeare Company makes a return visit to Blackpool Grand Theatre in March. For the first time it will bring three shows to the area: the romantic comedy As You Like It, the often controversial The Taming of the Shrew, and a stunningly relevant production of Measure for Measure.
In As You Like It, Rosalind (played by Lucy Phelps) and Orlando (played by David Ajao) fall in love, but are immediately kept apart from each other, or so it seems. Rosalind is forced to leave home and venture into the Forest of Arden, where she unexpectedly comes across Orlando. To test his love for her she dresses up as a boy, and after some confusion, the lovers are reunited. Director Kimberley Sykes promises a production that will include elements of panto, live music, audience interaction, improvisation and stand-up comedy, courtesy of the fool, Touchstone.
Director Justin Audibert has turned The Taming of the Shrew on its head, ‘gender-flipping’ the cast so that the vast majority of roles traditionally played by men will be played by women, and vice versa.
Baptista Minola is seeking to sell off her son, the fiery Katherine (played by Joseph Arkley), to the highest bidder. When Petruchia (played by Claire Price) comes on the scene it leads to an explosive battle of the sexes between her and Katherine. With beautiful period costumes but with a 1980s inspired soundtrack, this electrically charged love story will make audiences look at this often-controversial play with new eyes.
In Measure for Measure, Isabella (played by Lucy Phelps), a nun, is given an impossible choice. Her brother is in prison, and the only way he can escape the death penalty is if Isabella sleeps with Vienna’s strict ruler, Angelo. This tense thriller is set at the start of the 20th Century in a world heavily influenced by the Vienna of the Orson Welles’ film, The Third Man. In light of today’s #MeToo movement, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure takes on even more relevance.
The Royal Shakespeare Company has its home in Stratford-upon-Avon, but regularly tours its plays around the UK. It is also responsible for creating some of the world’s most well-known productions, originating the original productions of Les Miserables and Matilda The Musical.
The Royal Shakespeare Company returns to Blackpool with a company of 27 actors from all corners of the UK, after entertaining audiences with A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2016 and Romeo and Juliet in 2018. It’s the first time the Royal Shakespeare Company has brought three plays to the Grand over a two-week period.
Erica Whyman, the RSC’s Deputy Artistic Director, said:
We want as many people as possible to see our work, and we really believe Shakespeare should be for everyone, so taking plays around our nation is an essential part of what we do. I’m delighted that our visit to Blackpool will give audiences the chance to see not just one production, but our wonderful company of actors in three very different plays.
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