Shakespeare in Motion

After having a thoroughly amazing trip to London focusing on Shakespeare, I think I now have a better, albeit still more limited than I’d like, view of Shakespeare. During the trip, we saw two productions of Shakespeare’s works: a production of Henry VI Part III and a production of Much Ado About Nothing. These shows are very different, one a comedy and the other an epic historical play, and the productions we saw of both also had very different design philosophies to match.


Henry VI Part III was marketed as a sort of inspiration for Game of Thrones, and the similarities are surprisingly obvious; you can see where George R.R. Martin took inspiration from. This play is not produced very often, but I would say that this production really played up the fights. There were tons of very nicely choreographed fight scenes, with people dying right and left in the super cool gravel pit stage they had built.

The theater in Stratford where Henry VI Part III was performed.

On the other hand, Much Ado About Nothing was not in a highly technical theater and was out in the semi-open of the Globe Theatre. We had standing tickets and got a little bit of rain on us, but it was not too bad. This production played up the physical comedy of the play, and there were so many parts of the play that I had not understood/got while reading the text that ended up being just hilarious seeing live. The direction and vision behind this production were just inspiring, in my opinion. The fathers of Hero and Beatrice (the two leading ladies) were instead played by two women as mothers, and this change added so much to the play. There were so many scenes where the jokes and shenanigans just made so much sense with them as mothers instead of fathers. I found myself forgetting they were ever fathers in the first place, and I wondered how this play could be performed any other way! The direction and acting were both simply rife with fun in this production. There was so much joy in the performers, and this was shared with the audience even more through audience participation. This was a thoroughly enjoyable production that took what I had construed as an unfunny text that might’ve been funny 500 years ago to a hilarious romp through post-WWII Italy (I forgot to mention they changed the setting too).

The set at the Globe Theatre for Much Ado About Nothing.

Both of these productions were very different in almost every way, yet they found new ways to adapt Shakespeare’s works which have lasting impact. Although we don’t have kings in the same sense anymore, Henry VI Part III is still a super entertaining and epic tale of battle and succession. A play which also shows how the actions/inaction of leaders and other political figures can lead to Civil War and turmoil. Meanwhile, Much Ado About Nothing is not entirely outdated and can be played around with to bring new life into the ancient words! Overall, both of these productions were a joy to see, and through changing up certain aspects and casting diverse and differently-abled actors, these classics can remain relevant and continue to inspire audiences.