REVIEW: Barrie Rutter’s Shakespeare’s Royals at the Georgian Theatre Royal

The Georgian Theatre Royal.

“All the world’s a stage” and didn’t Barrie Rutter prove it with a swashbuckling performance of Shakespeare’s Royals.

While ‘As You Like It’ is a comedy which does not involve any regal participants – although it did include a Duke – one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes is pertinent as Rutter delivered an engrossing guide to the Bard’s leading royals from Richard III to Henry IV, A Midsummer Night’s Dream to his personal favourite, an enduring Kingly speech from Henry VI part III.

Rutter has enjoyed a garlanded career on the boards and even joked that he has appeared on Desert Island Discs, where a song by Tina Turner was his ‘save from the waves’ No1 pick.

His knowledge of Shakespeare runs very deep and his love for the Bard’s work is clear for all to see. Rutter’s enthusiastic dynamism underlined the lessons we could all learn from the son of a humble glover who died nearly 400 years ago – the anniversary of his death is looming large in two years’ time.

Rutter hit the right note between a deep dive into Shakespeare’s works and some humorous anecdotes about his life in the theatre, where he has directed Lenny Henry in Othello, played the armed robber ‘Oakes’ in the cinema version of ‘Porridge’ and founded Northern Broadsides theatre company in 1992. His career, from his birth in Hull, has been remarkable.

Now aged 77, Rutter has been active in theatre since the 60s and his knowledge of Shakespeare’s 39 plays is immense.

He recalled in vivid detail trips to Brazil, conversations with the likes of Maureen Lipman, Dizzy Gillespie and even Rudolf Nureyev. Rutter outlined the beginnings of Northern Broadsides and meeting the great and the good of the theatre. He has worked with them all. And it wasn’t just whimsical reminiscences from an old stager because as Rutter was at pains to point out, there is real learning of life and all its intrigue and intricacies in Shakespeare, none more so than in his portrayal of royals. Rutter showed that Shakespeare was far from flawless as his historical references could be hopelessly inaccurate, but that is missing the point. Old Bill was a dramatist and that’s what dramatists do.

An hour and a half of great fun and Rutter was accompanied by immensely talented Emily Butterfield from Northern Broadsides.  Other dates on the current tour include Harrogate, Saltaire and York so catch it if you can.

1 Comment

  1. I first saw Barrie Rutter at the Leeds Playhouse in the early 70s and he was brilliant.

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