Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • SWEET WILLIAM • Little Angel Theatre • 2007

pennington_michaelWhat a glorious marriage of two theatrical institutions. The Little Angel Theatre, Islington, the spiritual and actual home of the finest of British puppetry, has broadened its dramatic appeal by inviting that veteran of Shakespearean acting, Michael Pennington, to stage his one-man tribute to William Shakespeare, Sweet William.

The Little Angel is such an intimate and inviting space. Where better to spend a drizzly summer’s evening in the company of Pennington. The dark auditorium and serried ranks of cushioned pews were packed with young and old alike as Pennington embarked on a theatrical journey that spanned his own, and his hero’s, lifetimes. Dressed by nothing more than a finely-wrought Victorian chair, the stage provided the simplest and most complementary backdrop for this journey.

Pennington’s style is so easy and relaxed, so immediately endearing, that it belies the incredible discipline and skill that such an intimate expression of acting demands. Immediately, Pennington lets us into his personal secret. As a young 11 year-old schoolboy he was forced, albeit not actually kicking and screaming, but almost, to a production of Macbeth at the Young Vic. This meeting with Shakespeare was to change his life forever.

After more years than we would care to mention, Pennington can confirm that he has spent over twenty thousand hours so far recreating Shakespearean drama, for himself and his public. Sweet William celebrates this ‘love-affair’ perfectly.

Interspersed with snippets from well-known and not-so-well-known Shakespearean plays, Sweet Williamexplores the life and times of Shakespeare with fascinating clarity and simplicity, as well as gloriously irreverent humour. This is no glorification of the Bard, but an evocation of a man of his times, who could be as “sizeist, sexist, xenophobic and dirty-minded,” to use Pennington’s own words, as the worst of us.

Pennington describes what little we know of Shakespeare’s early life as a well-paid jobbing actor, desperate to put his own words into his colleagues mouths. In the process, Pennington displays his talent for character-study and mimicry. One moment childish prince, the next distraught Egyptian queen, Pennington brings these characters to life with an immediacy that is, to say the least, breathtaking.

Most poignant, however, is the actor’s portrayal of the waning years of Shakespeare’s creative process, reflected in the pathos of a dying Lear or the reminiscences of a native Warwickshire. Pennington’s own acting career and his desire to re-politicize the texts for a modern audience is reflected in these evocations of a lifetime’s work. It has not been work for Pennington; it has been a passion.

Sweet William should be added to the National Curriculum as a must-see production for all school-age (and adult) children. You will never get a better introduction to Shakespeare or a more passionate exploration of his drama and poetry. Pennington’s love-letter to a dear friend is unique in its originality and worthy of the packed houses which this opening night at the Little Angel Theatre portends.

Kevin Quarmby © 2007

Originally published on R&V 22-08-07

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

Watercolor paintings

Today in History

"Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me a truth, and I'll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." - Steve Sabol, NFL Films

The Architect & I

The Nazis assigned him a number but I wanted the world to know his name.

Basic Archaeology

Archaeology News, Interesting Facts and More

Travalanche

Being a web log for the observations of actor, author, cartoonist, comedian, critic, director, humorist, journalist, master of ceremonies, performance artist, playwright, producer, publicist, public speaker, songwriter, and variety booker Trav S.D.

1stangel.co.uk/loisbryanphotography/

LOIS BRYAN Photography and Digital Art

vixlowthion

A Green future for the Isle of Wight

TOKIDOKI (NOMAD)

a world travel photo blog by Jackie Hadel

swo8

Music means something

literatoluisrodriguez

Literatura y consejos.

Clanmother

A Backward Look Forward

CineMuseFilms

Freelance Film Critic

Christine Parker Art Blog

Sharing my paintings

DukkeHus

The Novel

Susan Brazier Illustrations

Various Illustrations both previous and ongoing.

Wolves in London

Making stuff and pootling in the garden

SophiaRileyKobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Art Bacchant

drunk on the arts

Professional Pin-Cushion in Makeup & Mittens

Loving yourself & Living with Scleroderma!

London Wlogger

Walking blogger exploring London's hidden gems, sights and history!

Winkos: a straw bale building adventure in Poland

A journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle

nz

Online zeitung

The Elegant Mind

"The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it." Diana Vreeland

National Trust Press Office

National Trust news, events and insight

penwithlit

Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History

Gemma's Journey

Culture Blogger | Theatre Lover | Follow my Journalism journey | BA Journalism Grad. 2016 @SunderlandUni | Views are my own

Robbie's inspiration

Ideas on writing and baking

Tracy Leibmann

Artisan Jewelry | Accessories | Vintage | Digital Products | Handicrafts

Beyond today, tomorrow

Things from the past and present which may some some relevance in our future

Ambiance Déco

Our space has a real effect on our emotions. Simply change your room arrangements to change your mood. Start to observe your surroundings to feel calm, relaxed and Happy.

kirilson photography

the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa

The Handcrafted Company

Bespoke Handcrafted Woodwork & Artwork

21st Century Theater

A collection of fragments more than the sum of its shards

Vicky Painter Illustrations

art & illustration

Curious Paleo

Exploring the world of Paleontology through new scientific articles, photos, and art

peoplespeacefulrevolution.wordpress.com/

Promoting a Peaceful Political Revolution

Meeka's Mind

All things sporadic!

Diary of a Sapper

The war diary of Ernest Lawrence Garraway, 1916 - 1917

Victorian Paris

Life in 19th Century Paris

Course of Mirrors

the phenomenon of reflection

JamesRadcliffe.com

James Radcliffe, Musician. Music, Blog, Pictures, Live, News...

%d bloggers like this: