If Robin Williams had played King Lear…

Published by ConservativeHome

Robin Williams - imagined Lear“…that shrewd and knavish sprite/ Call’d Robin”, I tweeted on the #nothingescapesshakespeare hashtag I seem to share with my fellow Bardophile Dan Hannan, when I heard the sad news that Robin Williams was dead. I guess for a certain generation (i.e. mine) he will always be the zany, elfin Mork from Ork, transmitting wry observations about the human condition (i.e. American culture) to his humourless supervisor Orson – “Nanoo Nannoo”. The TV series went stratospheric in the late 70s, and a lot of casting thereafter was done to feed Williams’s whirlwind appetite for comedy – DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam, Armand in The Birdcage, or the explosive voice of the Genie in Aladdin, much of which was improvised. Every performance was a spontaneous cyclone of craziness and enthusiasm for life. Continue reading


EU plans to adopt Shakespeare as ‘Euro-laureate’

Published by Daily Mail

Shakespeare3On April 23rd 2016 – and probably throughout the entire year – we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. By ‘we’ I mean not only England and the English, or the United Kingdom and the British, but all nations and cultures of the world where Shakespeare is a passion, pastime or of any scholarly interest. And that necessarily embraces the whole of civilisation. As the holder of the Guinness World Record for performing the Complete Works single-handedly non-stop (five days without sleep – never again), I’ll certainly be raising a glass or two to the world’s greatest poet-playwright.

My record still stands after 25 years, and has just been re-published in the 2013 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. I will forever be grateful to those fine English teachers I had at school – Roger Calvert, Daphne Cooper and Jean Tidy – who between the years that spanned my O-levels and A-levels introduced me to Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Antony & Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Measure for Measure and King Lear. From the academic confines of the classroom to the emotional exuberance of the school play, I found my soul simultaneously steeped in dramatic greatness, lyrical beauty and profound wisdom: ineffable, noetic, passive – it was like a religious experience. Every visit I made to Stratford-upon-Avon became a pilgrimage: sometimes wrestling with darkness and devils, and then rejoicing with angels and ministers of grace. Continue reading