Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
Some plays much better than others....
on July 31, 2008
The BBC did something really ambitious here. to produce all of Shakespeare's plays with some of the leading British actors of the time was no easy undertaking. But...this portion of the collection did not come out as good as it might have. Still, there are good plays in it with many fine performances. Hamlet, Julius Ceasare, and Romeo and Juliet were more or less up the standards one would hold for these actors and the BBC in general. Derek Jacobi gives a wonderful performance as Hamlet. His range of emitions and the speed with which he can shift from one emotion to the other is quite remarkable. I found his Hamlet to be one thinking things through all the time. One who isnt sure at first to the answers to the questions he asks himself but comes to conclusions after much thought. He also pokes fun at the comic characters in the play (Polonius, Osric, ect)with a savage wit. Yet he can bring himself to towering passions as well. Clare Bloom is quite impressive as the regal but still sexy Queen, and Patrick Stewart shows he can do Shakespeare with ease, which made me wonder why he didnt pursue it longer and instead turned to Star Trek (hardly high art). Romeo and Juliet was also a delight, keep an eye out for a younger Alan Rickman as Tybalt. Keith Michell totally sheds his Henry VIII and gives a powerhouse Brando-like performance as Marc Antony. then there is Macbeth and Othello... I was shocked these plays were soooooo bad because the cast seemed so impressive. Nichol Williamson simply cannot do Shakespeare, he looked like a drooling imbecile for half the play...it appears that his only technique for doing Shakespeare was opening his eyes very wide and speaking into the camera. he looks totally miscast for the part, like a hairy village idiot who wandered onto the set. Lady Macbeth appears to be having an orgasm in half her lines and the supporting cast aint much better. Othello was a real shock, Hopkins was a frizzy haired fop hissing out his lines most of the time and Hoskins looked like some school yard punk playing dirty tricks on the teacher. Hoskins just isnt meant for this kind of role (if you want to see a film where his performance will blow you away stick to The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa). So these two plays really bring the collection down. still, the other three are a delight.