I've only been going on about it for the last couple of days.
Yes, I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company's The Hollow Crown today. While not actually a Shakesperean play, it's been long considered a company piece.
Here are the facts.
Stars: Diana Rigg (of The Avengers and Mrs Bradley Mysteries), Ian Richardson (from Murder Rooms), Donald Sinden, Stephen Gray (singer and guitarist of the piece) and of course, the great Sir Derek Jacobi (I'll talk more about him later).
Summary: The Hollow Crown is a series of plays, songs and poems about the English Royal family from William the Conqueror to Queen Victoria.
What can I say? Simply brilliant. You kind of forgot that these were genuine accounts by and about English monarchs. Some were saucy (Henry VIII's poem As the Holly Groweth Green as read by Donald), some funny (Fifteen year-old Jane Austen's account of all monarchs from Henry IV to Charles I as read by Diana) and some quite sad (the ballad of Queen Jane Seymour as sung by Stephen Gray).
Henry VII's memorandum about a possible marriage between himself and the Queen of Naples. Featured Derek and Ian. Too funny for words as they conversed over the appearance of the woman, including the v. amusing description of her nose.
Henry VIII (Donald Sinden) writing a love letter to Anne Boelyn proposing marriage. I don't know what Henry would've sounded like, but I'm very certain that he would've been as gruff and lustful as Donald sounded. Then, in contrast, Diana reading as Anne years later before her execution.
Charles II addressing Parliament on announcing his marriage and then writing to his Lord Chancellor. Ian did this. Clearly one of the saucy ones I mentioned above.
Horace Walpole, son of British PM Sir Robert accounting the funeral of George II. Derek was so wonderfully campy in this.
Ah yes, Derek. Um, what to say.....very charismatic on the stage, even moreso than he is on film or tv. He wore a collarless charcoal grey jacket and trousers and a greyish-blue turtleneck. Looked v. serious during the whole thing but that didn't stop him looking down and laughing or smiling during a funny moment. What can I say? He was perfect. While performing as Charles I at his trial, he totally blew the theatre into silence, I swear. We were all in awe of his greatness. Of course, I still fancy John Hurt over him. ;-)
It was a strong cast, so nobody overshadowed anybody. Stephen Gray was v. talented on the guitar and singing, Diana really stretched her vocal talents as Jane Austen, Mary I, Anne and Victoria and a few others; Donald's gruffness never failed to raise chuckles from the audience and Ian's regal presence never failed, even during a brief coughing fit, after which he announced 'We hope to bring you the words of Henry VI, Henry VIII, Elizabeth and hopefully Charles II'.
Despite the fact that autographs were not a possibility *sigh* (Why are they so much more picky about fans here than they are in England or the US?), I left feeling quite satisfied.
That good enough for you, Caroline?