FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Stratford-upon-Avon and the Orphan of Zhao

Posted in England, Stratford-upon-Avon by folkestonejack on December 16, 2012

A weekend trip to Stratford-upon-Avon gave a wonderful opportunity to see two plays in one day – the Orphan of Zhao in an afternoon matinee, followed by Boris Godunov in the evening – both of which were really terrific.

The Orphan of Zhao was utterly compelling theatre that you didn’t want to take your eyes off. It has been described as the Chinese equivalent to Hamlet and it certainly matches Jacobean revenge tragedies in body count! The story itself is 2500 years old and has been through numerous re-workings, culminating in this new version by James Fenton. It tells the tale of how the son of Zhao Dun came to survive the massacre of his clan and grow up unaware of his true identity, until all is revealed to him…

The RSC have certainly delivered on their promise to showcase “the greatest classics you’ve never seen” and I would recommend the Orphan of Zhao to anyone (check out the BBC article The Orphan of Zhao comes to RSC and the reviews in the Telegraph, FT, Guardian and Evening Standard for the assessment of the critics).

The theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon

The theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon

On the Sunday we spent our time looking at the sights associated with Shakespeare and his family – Shakespeare’s birthplace, Hall’s Croft, Nash’s House & New Place. It’s certainly well worth the visit to get a better understanding of how Shakespeare fitted into this world. I have to confess that in spite of studying Shakespeare’s canon for a year at university all my knowledge revolved around the plays and not the man.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get up to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company (after all, I used to go to see the RSC at the Barbican in London a fair bit) but now that I’ve started I don’t intend to stop. Indeed, I have already got another double-bill booked for the summer!

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