wed 23/04/2014

Globe to Globe: Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3, Shakespeare's Globe | Theatre reviews, news & interviews

Globe to Globe: Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3, Shakespeare's Globe

A slick Serb Part 1, an effective Macedonian Part 3 and a very very Albanian Albanian Part 2

The National Theatre of Belgrade, Henry VI, Part 1: 'On stage throughout, the troupe slipped and slid from one scene to the other with a virtuosic fluency'Marc Brenner

There was always going to be one Borat moment in this festival. And it came courtesy of the Albanians, who, for comic effect, in the middle of their Henry VI, Part 2 indulged in the gratuitous harassment of a mentally handicapped person. It got the biggest laugh of the show from the expats, suggesting it's still quite a rib-tickler, disabled-bashing, in Albanian culture. It was an instructive reminder that you invite the globe to the Globe at your moral peril.

The other parts of the warring Henry VI trilogy were being presented by two other Balkan countries: a Serbian Part 1 and Macedonian Part 3. Albania, Serbia and Macedonia: the only Balkan countries that haven't yet gone to war with each other. Still, they've all had their fair share of troubles over the past two decades. So it was strange that the only production that seemed to engage with this past (however subtly) was the Serbs'. They referenced old nationalist songs, invested a round table with the status of a disintegrating body politic, and delivered the political machinations that sees implacable foes in bear-hug embraces with a brilliant, dry, dark humour.

Martin Mirchevski's short, limping Richard had a fantastic what-did-you-expect-of-me look as he dispatched his rivals

As one of the oldest theatre companies of the region and hailing from one of the most sophisticated city cultures in Eastern Europe, the National Theatre of Belgrade unsurprisingly also delivered the slickest and most inventive production of the three. The ensemble acting was magnificent. On stage throughout, the troupe slipped and slid from one scene to the other with a virtuosic fluency. Not easy when you have so many characters and battles and, to be honest, a plot that doesn't show off Shakespeare at his best. 

Then again, it strikes me that the less well-regarded the play the more fun we English tourists (my second-generation Serbo-Croat only got me so far) are likely to have at this Shakespeare festival. Shakespeare in English is least fun when it's in full battle mode. But when language is not in play, it is precisely these non-verbal elements - the battles, the slapstick - that make things manageable and decipherable. Animated with a tremendous, physical storytelling skill by the Serbs, the character-jammed, battle-fuelled, screed-clogged Part 1 became the easiest to follow and enjoy.

It was good to see national stereotypes being adhered to throughout. The Serbs excelled at arguing, fighting and holding grudges. The Albanians were exceptionally Albanian, delivering outstanding moustaches, a superlative pirate and an array of esoteric costumes that either sourced the kingdoms of the ancients or the lands of the gimp. The Macedonians did a fine line in wailing and baggy trousers. 

After the Serbs, the Macedonians also offered the most interest theatrically. They had the richer play and their actors rose to the task superbly. Martin Mirchevski's short, limping Richard (soon to be III) had a fantastic what-did-you-expect-of-me face as he dispatched his rivals, and was never less than brilliant when periodically whipping himself up into a Mussolini-like lather. The direction from Californian John Blondell was crude but effective.

Slow-motioning was the order of the day. The Balkans are clearly very fond of that effect. It was interesting to see the progress of Henry VI as he wound his way: conceited in Serbian, conflicted in Albanian and finally mad in Macedonian. It was also interesting to watch the development of the female sex through these three male-dominated plays. In Part 1 the only woman, Joan of Arc, is but a cipher. By Part 3 the women are running the place, the Macedonian National Theatre of Bitola adding to this impression by changing Warwick's sex.

All in all, an intriguing day. One inevitably yearned to understand more. Especially when the acting in the Serbian and Macedonian productions was at its peak and the verbal resonances began to excite those native speakers around us. But mostly I was left wondering whether anyone had told the Albanian National Theatre that this wasn't Eurovision.

Follow @IgorToronyi on Twitter

Comments

Only 37 theatre groups from

Only 37 theatre groups from 194 countries in the world were invited to act at Shakespeare’s Globe. The Albanians considered it an honour to have this opportunity to act on this most prestigious stage. The play by the Albanian group was artistically very good and a job well done. The troop adhered to a classical way of depicting Shakespeare and in doing so they applauded British Heritage. The Albanian actors performing for the roles of Warwick, one of the pirates, Jack, Eleanor and Princess Margarette did exceptionally well. But having seen other shows at the Globe, the plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company are brilliant and set the bar high. The Albanian performance was not perfect and did not reach the standard of the RSC. Mr. Toronyi-Lalic has a clear bias towards Belgrade and sets off from a prejudiced disposition when describing the Albanian effort. For example in stating that “Albanians were exceptionally Albanian”. Shame on him! But his cruel remarks do not surprise me. Serbian racism towards Albanians is well documented and their unjustified hatred shows no sign of lessening.

I am just wondering if the

I am just wondering if the name Igor derives from Ignorance?! ART DOES NOT HAVE BOUNDARIES....ART DOESNOT KNOW RACISM...! Yet we know that nowadays media does not have sophistication anymore. Pitty that people like you draw nationalism through arts!!! And little ignor THE ALBANIANS WILL BE ALBANIANS like or not!!!

Without an intention to be

Without an intention to be drawn into this tribal euphoria,as I haven't watched all three productions, I would like to refer to Guardian's review of the plays http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/may/16/henry-vi-parts-1-2-3-review

What happens if I say: "Igor

What happens if I say: "Igor was too Bruno of Bruno himself"? Criticizing those who are not "Bruno." With the charm of the lady who characterizes it, he calls Borad interpretation of the national theater of albania? Dear Igor or Bruno, (Howrever is The Same Thing) you call the Beograd theater : "As one of the oldest theatre companies of the region and hailing from one of the most sophisticated city cultures in Eastern Europe"?? Sorry, you ever heard about Illyria and Illyrians? So, Albanian have the old Bylis,Butratos,Apollonia,Dyrracum ect. theatres, who belong to the centuries before the Slavonic (Slaves) movement of the seventh century....

Sadly, as I understand the

Sadly, as I understand the comments, they are from Albanians who haven't even seen the performance and they take bad critics on behalf of Albanian performance as nationalistic? Would it be the case if journalist did not have the Slavic name? Is his Slavic name discrediting him from expressing his opinion? Bad performance is just bad performance and it has nothing to do with nationalism...

Sadly, as I understand the

Sadly, as I understand the comments, they are from Albanians who haven't even seen the performance and they take bad critics on behalf of Albanian performance as nationalistic? Would it be the case if journalist did not have the Slavic name? Is his Slavic name discrediting him from expressing his opinion? Bad performance is just bad performance and it has nothing to do with nationalism...

Could this article writer be

Could this article writer be any more RACIST? Could your website be any more BLIND than this, in the 21st century? Where do you people live, in 16th century Europe?! Wake up you "civilized" folks, you are being racist in sheer daylight!!!

Igor, you are so far from the

Igor, you are so far from the Britishness of the British sense of humour, irony! Your phrases are so dry and poor despite you efforts in vain to adopt some standard and style! I have not seen the shows and I dont know what is your background but what is clear for all of us you are so bias and pathetic! Who on earth told you about our rib-tickleing habits and our morale? Have you ever been in Albania? What would have said your editor to if you had used the same line about the Indians they are very Indians or Pakistanis ar very Pakistani?!?!?! Go and write about football...you may find yourself better off there...Hodgson came up with his England team ...shame on you....and to your editor!

The only one here who doesn't

The only one here who doesn't deserve to mention Shakespeare's name is only the author of this article. The writter himself never wrote such horrible and racist acclaims, nor should you judge on these basis about art.

What do you mean by

What do you mean by 'Albanians were Albanians'? Please define... as well as where have you studied stereotypes???? How poor, if written by an art critic!

Boring article. Igor looks

Boring article. Igor looks more interestend on National Geografic than theatre critics. But when he uses irony thats make look him more like Borat than Bruno itself

It's a pity the reviewer was

It's a pity the reviewer was wearing the away-team's scarf. However, I may only have seen half of the Serbian piece (a puncture in my bike tyre in Peckham), and I didn't have tickets for the Albanian and Macedonian shows, but even HALF of their Henry VI Part 1 was better in terms of acting and imagination of staging than 90% of the Globe's homegrown efforts. Apparently, having been refused the Hamlets and the King Lears by the Globe management he asked: What play does NOBODY want to do? When told Henry VI, he said: We'll do that. And had a triumph...

Hello Mr. Lalic, I can't

Hello Mr. Lalic, I can't help but notice your surname... it is a Slavic one. We must be neighbors, even though you consider yourself an English"man," but the Slavic Love of yours it's so easy visible. Critics toward Albanian National Theater are more than welcomed, but when they just talk about Theater or Art in general. To write a review by saying "Albanians were Albanians," takes it beyond Theater, even beyond borders. First lesson of Art is that it can be done by anyone, as long as the ones doing it are enjoying themselves. Art doesn't know nationality, ddd it slip your mind Igor? Apparently, you do have a hard time getting past it. If you can't write a review without being proportional, please save us the time of reading horrible irony. If the National Theater of Albania with Henry VI was viewed as Borat in your eyes, in my eyes this review of yours is the wife of Borat. Best Wishes, Marsi

just a very poor article ,

just a very poor article , another slav that hate albanians. Shame on you

I fully agree with the two

I fully agree with the two comments above. I haven´t seen the Albanian performance, so cannot judge it myself, but was wondering Mr. Lalic, how can you evaluate the Albanian performance? Do you speak Albanian? In addition, if you don´t speak Albanian, as I assume, of course you cannot compare the Albanian performance with the Serb and SlavoMacedonian performance, as the setting is not the same. You speak the language of the last two and not the first one... Lastly, unfortunately even if what you say is true, it´s not credible due to your nationalistic bias.

Oops, is someone here who

Oops, is someone here who sees a Conflict of INTEREST? Or is just my impression?

no,,apparently there's no

no,,apparently there's no conflict of interest but conflict of poor evaluation coming from someone who calls himself ''Art Critique'' which is a shame because art goes beyond nationalism propoganda,,,pfffff

Igor DO I feel a bit of

Igor DO I feel a bit of Slavic love here or is it just your name?

Wow I don't think Ive ever

Wow I don't think Ive ever been more bored EVER. Not only you didn't entertain your reader, you disgust us with your "Albanians were Albanians" ignorant comments. Wow your ass should be fired and shame on whoever gives you money and supports your "writing" which surely DOESN'T entertain!!!

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