Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2011

The Hollow Crown

As in a theatre the eyes of men, After a well-grac’d actor leaves the stage, Are idly bent on him that enters next, Thinking his prattle to be tedious; Even so, or with much more contempt, men’s eyes Did scowl on Richard. Richard II , Act V, Scene II Thus the Duke of York describes Bolingbroke’s triumphant entry into London with the deposed King Richard riding in his train. This is a playful inversion of the drama for me for, as far as I am concerned, the play is dominated by Richard, not Bolingbroke. It’s Richard my gaze is fixed on when he’s on the stage; when he leaves it my interest takes a little dip. Of course, I soon ascend from the dip: this is my favourite Shakespeare play. It’s fair to say, though, that for this play-goer if Richard isn’t up to the job the rest might as well not bother. I’ve seen Fiona Shaw’s Richard, Kevin Spacey’s Richard, and a couple of other unfortunately unmemorable Richards. Now I’ve seen John Heffernan take on the role in a production by Shakes

Elms and Bees

I had another wonderful evening in Chepstow’s Drill Hall on Saturday (5 March 2011) at a Poetry on the Border event. This time I went to see Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke: a tremendous double bill. William Ayot, who organises PotB, introduced them as two “great” poets, reflecting on the fact that “great” is a word he often uses of poets, but is particularly applicable to these two. He’s right of course. Duffy offered us a range of poems, many of which touched on things we are losing, precious things that are slipping away. Elm trees, decimated by disease, and now the survival of the remaining few threatened by government spending cuts which decrees no more research into its cause. Old pub names full of meaning - local, historical, agricultural - replaced by rootless, manufactured nonsenses. Bees, gone with disastrous consequences for every growing thing. County names: this last a protest against Royal Mail’s instruction that we no longer need to include the county in addresses.