Friday, 2 March 2012

Black "Comedy"

Happy memories of Clifford Williams’ RSC production of The Comedy of Errors were brought back last evening! They were awakened by the National Theatre relay of its current revival of this early Shakespeare.

First put on in September 1962, I saw it at Stratford the following year, with Alec McCowen and the late-lamented Ian Richardson, Clifford Rose and Barry MacGregor in the male leads - other parts played by Donald Sinden, Diana Rigg, Janet Suzman…

I'm inclined to confess that yesterday the best bit was my Ben & Jerry ice cream in the interval. The production by the Royal Court's Dominic Cooke is dark, dark, dark - more uniformly so even than Act 1 of Propeller's recent Winter's Tale. I really don't think that the earlier play can stand that much directorial business: it left a distinctly unpleasant taste in the mouth - not one offset by some excellent acting and - praise be! - verse speaking: in the latter department, Pamela Nomvete as an unlikely-looking Abbess was outstanding, though her part is only a minor one.

It was the second occasion this week that I've left a so-called comedy dissatisfied: on Tuesday our Film Society showed a French film (from 2008), Louise-Michel: it was the first time I've ever found myself walking out before the end: it made me feel quite sick.

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