Viola and Sebastian are lookalike twins, separated by a shipwreck. Viola lands in Illyria, where she disguises herself like her brother and goes into the service of the Duke Orsino. Orsino ... See full summary »
King Leontes of Bohemia suspects his wife, Hermione, and his friend, Polixenes, of betraying him. When he forces Polixenes to flee for his life, Leontes sets in motion a chain of events ... See full summary »
Helena loves Bertram, but he's of noble birth, while she's just a doctor's daughter. But Bertram is at the court of the King of France, who is ill, and Helena has a remedy that might cure ... See full summary »
Cymbeline, the King of Britain, is angry that his daughter Imogen has chosen a poor (but worthy) man for her husband. So he banishes Posthumus, who goes to fight for Rome. Imogen (dressed ... See full summary »
Aegeon of Syracuse has come to Ephesus to seek his son, who went in search of his missing twin and mother months ago. Too bad that Ephesus has just declared war on Syracuse, and will ... See full summary »
James Cellan Jones
When Sir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun he writes two letters to a pair of Window wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they put their heads together and ... See full summary »
David Hugh Jones
Jonathan Miller triumphs with a fascinating production of an unruly play. His eye for casting is faultless, and different from others in the series. This personal view is emphasized by his special precision as director in revealing the interplay of character. There is absolutely no rhetoric for sound's sake here - every character knows exactly why they are saying what they're saying, and who they're saying it to.
The running time of "Troilus" is 12 minutes longer than that of "Pericles," yet it feels around 45 minutes shorter. Much of this play is done with a single mobile camera in long, unblinking takes. This adds to the pressure on the actors and crew, and contributes to a special kind of energy.
The performances are all excellent, without an embarrassment in the cast. That is not always true in this series. The young lovers are fine. Charles Gray grabs the role of Pandarus, and shakes it within an inch of its life. This huge personality is almost too big for the small screen, yet he never quite outstays his welcome.
Ben Whitrow's Ulysses is perhaps the most clever, calculating and cold-blooded of any, in any version of the story I've seen. Anthony Pedley is a funny Ajax, and Kenneth Haigh and John Shrapnel are confident as Achilles and Hector. Esmond Knight as King Priam and Jack Birkett as Thersites are both blind actors, which adds a certain otherworldly quality to the proceedings. The physical production and sound design are both detailed and effective.
The book "The BBC Shakespeare Plays: Making the Televised Canon" by Susan Willis spends a whole chapter describing in detail the rehearsal, taping and editing of this "Troilus." Highly recommended reading.
P.S. The prologue is read off-camera by an uncredited actor. Could it be Alec McCowen? Whoever it is reads the Bard's words as they should be read, a model for would-be Shakespeareans to study.
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