Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

RSC Looks Ahead after City Success

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

RSC Looks Ahead after City Success

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

The word on the street, or over interval drinks, is that the 27th Royal Shakespeare Company season in Newcastle has been especially memorable, and that with no established crowd-pleasers... Twelfth Night, "Dream" and the like.

Henry Goodman's vaudevillian Richard III wasn't everyone's cup of tea and a slow-burn Measure For Measure didn't light everyone's fire. But for every dissenter there were a dozen fans.

There has been no pre-Christmas turkey and even the severely testing Titus Andronicus came packaged in a winning production spiced with top-drawer performances.

Then there was Keepers Of The Flame, a new play by Newcastle writer Sean O'Brien and a pioneering collaboration between the RSC and Live Theatre. Some raved, others didn't, but everyone acknowledged the power of the work and the merits of the partnership. Dominic Cooke, recently appointed an RSC associate director, has reason to leave the North-East feeling pleased with the way things have gone.

As well as being responsible for a sumptuous Cymbeline, whose final performance at Newcastle Playhouse brings the curtain down on the season tonight, Dominic has had special responsibility for North-East operations - a duty bestowed by Michael Boyd who used to do the job himself before taking over as the company's artistic director.

At the Playhouse earlier this week, the 37-year-old, hailed in one national newspaper as one of his generation's "stand-out crowd of directors", was enthusiastic about his North-East task. "The first time I came to Newcastle was in 1993 when I was here for five weeks as an assistant director with the company. I had four shows to look after and I had a great time.

"I really think Newcastle is a great city. I grew up in London and my feeling is the further you go away, the stronger the community is and the more interesting. I like it here because it's so much its own place, it has its own flavour. And you notice the difference coming from Stratford, with its strange mix of tourists and Warwickshire people, to perform for a largely urban audience. …

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