Richard II is my favourite Shakespeare play, possibly my favourite play, so what better way to start 2008 than at the RSC's stunningly fabulous production in The Courtyard Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon... (that's a rhetorical question so no punctuational query required.) It's the first of the history cycle, 8 plays tracing struggles that smouldered on through Shakespeare's time, with themes still hot today: new imperatives versus the old ways, charisma versus status, and the limits of loyalty. So many moments of the staging reached inspiration - that swirling dust on dethroned Richard which became the brutal setting of the new king's bloody ascension, the gorgeous costumes blending in tableau yet each subtly distinctive...
Jonathan Slinger was sensational as the flawed monarch, finding outrageous comedic moments in his tantrums even at the most tragic moments while never losing a single breath of the poignancy. At the end of the three hours my eyes were raw from silent crying, it was that good.
And now it's Epiphany, and the new year is well and truly launched. 2008 is the year of the rat, a time of renewal and fresh starts. We've got another month to hatch them, as the Chinese reckon from February 8th, but no harm in getting a few resolutions ready. Here's a great one that landed on my mobile today:
This is a toast to all us beautiful ladies for 2008!
For the men who are fortunate enough to have us,
the losers who had us and lost us,
and the very lucky bastards who are yet to meet us!
I don't usually go for Up-the-wimmin rallying cries but this I did like. Happy new year one & all. May our writing inspire us and delight us throughout 2008, and maybe even enrich us too.