With the cultural Olympiad well under way in London, attention shifts in August to the Athens of the North and the Edinburgh Festival where, as usual, Shakespeare features in both the official festival and the fringe.
The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has concert performances of Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Camille O’Sullivan’s part-sung, part-spoken The Rape Of Lucrece with original music by Feargal Murray which was first seen at The Swan Theatre in Stratford last year. TR Warszawa theatre company are bringing their 2008: Macbeth (in Polish) to the festival which promises, ‘spectacular pyrotechnics, immersive video effects and an extraordinary, layered soundscape’ and there’s a buzz building around the RSC’s and EIF’s new co-production of Dmitry Krymov’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) (in Russian) which will open in Stratford on 10th August before heading up to the The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh on the 24th.
Meanwhile on the Fringe Stratford’s own Tread The Boards theatre company will be at Venue 45 with their production of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Abridged. Some actors like a drink before the show to steady their nerves but at C Venues Tax Deductible Theatre Company have turned the whole of Sh*t-faced Shakespeare into an audience participation Shakespearean drinking game. Also at C is a Lear two-hander, The Madness Of King Lear with Ira Seidenstein as the Fool and there’s the usual crop of Shakespearean school musicals including Hamlet! The Musical, The Macbeth Project, Measure to Measures and Swing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The fringe has a long tradition of solo Shakespeare. In 1990 I performed A One Man Hamlet there (“a solo tour de force” Scotland On Sunday – ah, happy days!) and this year the Australian actor, Will Bligh, is bringing his production of the show to Edinburgh. But if all that’s not enough for you, you can start the day with free coffee and croissants at Shakespeare For Breakfast then pick up or download the programme and choose between six Romeo And Juliets, five Macbeths, three Dreams, three As You Like Its, two more Lears, an Othello, an All’s Well That Ends Well, a Shrew or The Tempest. Lyn Gardner in The Guardian is a reliable source for other tips during the festival but feel free to recommend anything I might have missed in the comments box below.