A performance of The Tempest with Michael Pennington in the role of Prospero was the last to be reviewed before all theatres in the UK ‘went dark’ due to the coronavirus emergency. Two reviews of this performance prompted a couple of members to recall their own recollections of Pennington on stage and of other notable performances that had stayed in memory. So – here are two responses to Pennington referenced above - please let me have your own examples of ‘Theatre Remembered’– they may well act as triggers for others to recall their own and I’ll be glad to add them to those posted here: Lawrence@badgersfold.co.uk .
From Julia (Warwick): Re: Michael Pennington - I recall seeing his Hamlet whilst at school up in Newcastle when the RSC made their annual pilgrimage up there. I recall my Mum saying it was a "gentle, poetic Hamlet" [see above]. I think it was going to those productions up in Newcastle that got me interested in Shakespeare, I used to love going- I recall being absolutely enthralled by Alan Howard. Really want to get hold of the new ‘Hamnet’ novel. Have just finished reading the cover of Winter's Tale , "The Gap of Time" by Jeanette Winterson- it started so well and inventive but the ending was rushed and disappointing. Started " Shylock is my Name " by Howard Jacobson" sitting in the garden having mowed the lawn. So grateful for the sunshine….
Posted 29.03.2020: PS Julia clearly saw Carol Royal as Ophelia. I can recall seeing Marianne Faithful as Ophelia in Hamlet at a Coventry theatre (don't know if it was Pennington as Hamlet) - I vividly recall that during the 'mad' scenes she contrived to do astonishing and quite uninhibited things with a hosepipe. [LCG]
Venus and Adonis : RSC/Little Angel Theatre at the Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon (2004).
From Stella (Warwick) Yes I saw Venus and Adonis [Pennington narrated this] too and loved it. I didn't intend to see a poem performed by puppets but the rave notices drew me in. Also saw MP at the Swan reciting from the Sonnets with Peter Brooke's wife (can't remember her name) and he did a one man show about Shakespeare at the Centre. I remember him saying that all you needed to know about acting was explained by Hamlet's speech to the players. Also that Shakespeare could do the big stirring speeches but added little domestic details like Lear saying 'Pray you sir undo this button.' Once on Woman's Hour they played three extracts, supposedly from Shakespeare, two of which were spoof, but quite convincing and one obscure S. You were asked to guess which one was the real thing. Although I hadn't heard it before, the real one was unmistakable. It was Constance in King John bemoaning her absent child and seeing his clothes hanging up in the wardrobe.