diamond geezer

 Sunday, April 24, 2016

It sounded like a fantastic idea to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. A string of 37 big screens, each showing a short film related to one of William's plays, strung out along the South Bank in almost-chronological sequence and free to view. And indeed it was a fantastic idea. The artistic director at the Globe Theatre oversaw the creation of the project, combining extracts from filmed stage productions with specially commissioned scenes recorded in the actual locations Shakespeare intended. Some seriously famous actors got involved, and the end result is a collection of superb introductions to, and summaries of, the Bard's back catalogue.

The intention of The Complete Walk is that you start at one end (near Westminster Bridge) and walk to the other (by City Hall), taking in as many or as few of the short films as you please. At about ten minutes a time, the entire sequence would take about seven hours to watch in its entirety, including a pleasant two mile riverside stroll. So I thought I'd have a go, attempting at least a taster of each, which would be most of Saturday gone. Alas things didn't quite work out like that, as the entire project half-collapsed in a typically British mess. But they'll be having another go today, if technology permits and you're interested, and the films are so good that it might just be worth your while.



1) The Two Gentlemen of Verona: The trail kicked off in the garden at St Thomas' Hospital, once I'd found my way in, and featured Meera Syal on set in northern Italy. Good start.
2) Henry VI, Part 3: Just across the lawn, suitably out of audible range, it was already obvious that "The Histories" were going to be a bit more of a challenging watch than the rest.
3) The Taming of the Shrew: And then things started going wrong. The big screen in Jubilee Gardens was showing what looked like a floating gallery of maritime flags, because it was buggered. So, no Shrew.
4) Henry VI, Part 1: Ditto this Wars of the Roses featurette. A blank screen greeted viewers wandering across to the other side of Jubilee Gardens, so there were no viewers.
5) Titus Andronicus: Bullseye. Shakespeare's goriest play got the full works on a screen located under Hungerford Bridge, including pie-based cannibalism and, ooh, Peter Capaldi acting his socks off in the title role. It was just a shame that much of his dialogue was drowned out by the 12.36 to Sevenoaks rumbling overhead.
6) Henry VI, Part 2: It's OK, Shakespeare wrote his trilogy in the wrong order, hence the unusual sequencing. We enjoyed much cockney banter, as filmed at Spitalfields Market.
7) Romeo and Juliet: Moving up to a screen outside the Royal Festival Hall, this classic Italian-themed romance was drawing decent crowds.
8) Richard III: Another classic, but alas not on this occasion. "Ladies and gentlemen, due a technical fault this screen is closed" read the apologetic message on the screen, while a member of staff fiddled with the electronics round the back. We eventually got sound, but no picture was visible, perhaps due to continued problems, or perhaps because the screen was pointing directly into the sun. An old lady with an unimpressed grandson wandered over to tell the volunteer how displeased she was by all the broken screens. "We're trying our best, madam."



9) Love's Labours Lost: Where better than immediately outside the National Theatre for a part-rendition of this melancholic masterpiece? We even got to enjoy a song at the end.
10) King John: Less of a classic, and struggling to compete with a) the song drifting across from screen number 9 b) the sound of the ventilation unit round belching out of the NT.
11) The Comedy of Errors: Ah, another blank screen. I was struck by the play's highly appropriate title, given the way the project was rolling out thus far.
12) Richard II: Nothing. Ah hang on, pictures but no sound. And then a jump back to the beginning to try again. And then a jump back to the beginning to try again with sound. And then a minute later another jump back to the beginning... and those watching started to wander away.
13) A Midsummer Night's Dream: It had now started raining, but this screen had been cleverly positioned in the bandstand at Gabriel's Wharf, so the entire audience had crammed up close beneath the roof to stay dry, which meant I couldn't see the Bottom.
14) The Merchant of Venice: The first of three screens in Bernie Spain Gardens. But only one of the three was working, and it wasn't this one.
15) Henry IV, Part 1: In a complete tour de force, actor Toby Jones played a drunken Falstaff staggering around the interior of the George Inn, haranguing a man with a charity bucket, and soliloquising at the gents urinals. We loved it.
16) Much Ado About Nothing: Ah, another blank screen. I was struck by the play's highly appropriate title, given the way the project was rolling out thus far.



17) Henry IV, Part 2: Tucked away in the courtyard behind the Oxo Tower, a forlorn screen with no film and no audience.
18) The Merry Wives of Windsor: Ditto. I was now halfway through the sequence of screens, and precisely half of them hadn't been working.
19) Hamlet: Not to be.
20) Henry V: Once more unto the breach.
21) As You Like It: Sans everything.
22) Julius Caesar: Et tu, Brute?
23) Othello: No Moor.
24) Measure For Measure: At last, action! But having missed out on Jonathan Pryce, Sam West, Mel Giedroyc and David Harewood during the duff sequence past Tate Modern, this perhaps wasn't the finest return to form.
25) Twelfth Night: Here on Clink Street was the biggest crowd pleaser of the entire walk, as hundreds enjoyed footage of a hilarious comedic staging featuring Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance. Unfortunately the screen's location under the Cannon Street railway bridge reflected back the sound of the generator, ensuring that much of the dialogue was awkwardly muffled.



26) Troilus and Cressida: A great location, in the ruins of Winchester Palace, although this meant this was little room for an audience as well as the usual tourists, and the cobbled street got very crowded.
27) All's Well That Ends Well: The most relaxed setting, on the cafe terrace outside Southwark Cathedral, with chairs available for those who'd already walked a long way. Unfortunately Lindsay Duncan's reenacted scene was interrupted by the arrival of a white van which had to reverse up to the cathedral door, for some reason, necessitating the displacement of several old ladies from its path.
28) Timon of Athens: A rather smaller audience was watching this one, perhaps Shakespeare's least impressive play. Only now, three-quarters of the way through my parade, did I finally spot a volunteer handing out free maps to show my route.
29) Anthony and Cleopatra: Screened at London Bridge Pier, this filmed segment was shot on location at the Pyramids in Egypt, reflecting the enormously ambitious scale of this anniversary production.
30) King Lear: This was my favourite film, coherently summarising the plot and then shifting Kenneth Cranham and Zawe Ashton to the top of the White Cliffs of Dover. Brilliantly acted, and the kind of taster that must have made many think "You know what, perhaps I really ought to go and watch the full play some time".



31) Macbeth: Shot at Glamis, and wonderfully atmospheric, the Galleria audience enjoyed a compilation including the Porter, a lot of hand-washing and a battlefield death. My subconscious was pleased to discover that my O Level in English Literature hadn't been wasted, and I could chant along with almost every word.
32) Coriolanus: After eight consecutive operational screens, the gremlins were back. An engineer in a Fonix jacket stood alone round the back, outside More London, bleating to somebody on his phone.
33) Henry VIII: One of Shakespeare's least well known plays had the prime spot in The Scoop outside City Hall, its capacious bowl offering a rack of concrete stalls... mostly unoccupied.
34) Pericles: One of the sponsors of The Complete Walk was the Mayor of London. But the screen in Potters Field outside his office window wasn't working.
35) Cymbeline: And this was very much not working either. I felt sorry for all the actors who'd gone to the bother of travelling miles and acting their socks off on location, only for some random power glitch to mean that nobody would see their work.
36) The Winter's Tale: And then a third failure in Potters Fields, which made a disappointing way to end the walk.
37) The Tempest: Thankfully the very final screen was up and running. Unfortunately it had been cheapened by the appearance of two pink promotional flags, one on either side, and an advert for the Bermuda Tourist Board in the pre-roll. No doubt sending Douglas Hodge and the film crew to Bermuda had been expensive, but I was getting all the wrong echoes when he started to recite "we are such stuff as dreams are made on".



When half the screens in an anniversary cavalcade aren't working, you know somebody somewhere has screwed up. The organisers had a half-decent excuse for some of their troubles, namely that the President of the United States had been at the Globe Theatre at the same time things were supposed to be kicking off, and put out an apology on their website: "Due to heightened security in the area this morning, there were some delays in set-up, and there have also been some localised power issues." My money was with the power issues.

What films I saw were excellent, in many cases inspirational, conclusively proving that what makes Shakespeare come to life isn't simply the words, it's the staging. I hope they'll be made available for wider consumption, rather than shoved onto a DVD or locked behind a subscription paywall. But if you want to see them for free, and the organisers have got their act together, The Complete Walk concludes beside the Thames today, with curtain up at ten and exeunt at eight. Come hither, lest gentlemen in England now-a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sunday 2nd October (8.30-6.30)
Thames Barrier Closure
Annual all-day test, peaking around high tide at 3pm.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv