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Richard II (1997)
It really does not capture the spirit of what is one of Shakespeare's most underrated plays...
Fiona Shaw as the Richard II is perhaps an attempt to link the young king's reign with that of Elizabeth I, however the artistic intentions of the director divert away from the character of Richard and the role of kingship in the play. The staging is unimaginative and there is little symbolism apparent on the profound themes that Shakespeare explores. A really poor attempt to dramatise what is a very good play.
Play for Today: Abigail's Party (1977)
A modern classic that explores the social deficiencies of the aspiring middle classes in the 70's...
Abigail's party is a tremendous piece of drama that was originally developed through a process of improvisation. It is hilariously funny but at the same time deeply moving and the tension created on stage is amongst the most painful I have ever witnessed. Mike Leigh, as a director, clearly has an amazing ability to achieve fantastic performances from his actors. The play, about an awkward drinks gathering, hosted by the atrocious Beverley (Alison Steadman), explores the intricacies of the social order in Britain and the pretentious aspirations of the lower middle class. With a heavy dose of Demis Rusoss, quite a few Gin an' Tonics, a cheesy pineapple stick and a dramatic climax - Abigail's Party is a much-watch. It may be a little dated but it still has a cult following and I hear that people today hold Abigail's Party parties:- So it must be good!