This week The Show Must Go Online headed off into new territory, eschewing Shakespeare and anything Shakespeare-related with their latest production: John Lyly’s Gallathea (with a majority LGBTQIA+ cast). The team are clearly keen to continue their exploration of Zoom theatre for the foreseeable (though not at the eye-watering pace of a play a week now the First Folio is done), so this got me thinking about what else I’d like to see them take on. Obviously their sonnets project is ongoing over on Patreon, and if Ian Doescher has anything else up his sleeve that would definitely be welcome (can we have some more scenes from William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, pretty please?), but let’s stick to the early modern period for now…
10. Sir Thomas More (c. 1591-1593) – Anthony Munday & Henry Chettle (revised by Thomas Heywood, Thomas Dekker & William Shakespeare)
Starting off the list with a play I don’t know at all, but have heard of it because there was a Read Not Dead performance due to take place in the 2018-19 season that I failed to get tickets for! Plus I’m a massive geek when it comes to the Tudors, and Sir Thomas More was a fascinating figure during the reign of Henry VIII, so it’s a bit of a self-indulgent choice. However, some of the events that are covered in the play would resonate with the here & now: Ill May Day & anti-immigrant sentiment, the celebration of a pretty decent man (away from his persecution of ‘heretics’, that is), and the importance of principles in government.
9. The Massacre at Paris (1593) – Christopher Marlowe
I saw this at the Rose Playhouse not long after I moved to London, and basically I’d just like the opportunity to revisit it. The play does what it says on the tin (“good title”), but the religious aspects of the plot and the series of powerplays do make it so much more than that; there’s also the idea of identity & belonging to consider, particularly as Marlowe may well have heard the story of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre from Huguenot refugees who had fled to England. An apt story to be telling.
8. Edward I (1593) – George Peele
I had a great time watching this as a Read Not Dead a couple of years back and had a great time – they had an absolute dream team of a cast for that one. It was part of the Robin Hood series, as it’s inspired by that particular legend (though doesn’t feature the man in tights himself), but I really can’t remember a lot of the specifics as far as the plot goes. Basically, I think it needs the TSMGO treatment to permanently lodge it in my brain, and remind me of some of the things that I enjoyed so much in the 2019 reading.
7. The Duchess of Malfi (1613/1614) – John Webster
It’s a biggie, but with the exemplary fight directors & practitioners on the team – not to mention the continually excellent use of Zoom – I could see this really working. As well as the bloodshed, I reckon the themes of the play are right up TSMGO’s street; there’s potential for some super interesting casting decisions, too, depending on exactly how they chose to approach the play itself.
6. A Christian Turn’d Turk (1612) – Robert Daborne
Another Read Not Dead moment! The first one I ever saw, in fact. I was the perfect nerd for this one, booking the morning lecture as well as the actual reading – definitely worth it, as I initially found it difficult to get my teeth into it. Anyway, as there are pirates all through this play it feels like it’s got TSMGO written all over it – plus the team have always been incredibly sensitive to any potentially difficult subjects, which I get the feeling would come in rather handy here…
5. Arden of Faversham (1592) – anonymous (possibly William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Watson)
I read this as part of a course on ‘Killer Women’ a couple of months back, and I immediately pictured it as another classic TSMGO show. It is ultimately a tragedy, but there is so much ridiculous farce along the way that I am desperate to see it sooner rather than later; there are so many attempts to murder Arden, and I feel like it’s perfect Zoom theatre fodder.
4. The Woman in the Moon (1595) – John Lyly
Or any other John Lyly, really. I don’t know much about his other works, so have plumped for one that I saw in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (which began its life as a Read Not Dead piece) as I distinctly remember the feeling of joy it created in me. I think my exact words were “tonight I’ve had another of my ‘this is why I ❤ theatre’ moments” – so no biggie, then!
3. Edward II (1593) – Christopher Marlowe
I’ve seen (I think) three very different versions of this, and I’ve enjoyed the play more and more on each viewing: from Scena Mundi’s 80s hair rock themed production to Lazarus Theatre’s modern take on “Marlowe’s gay epic” to Nick Bagnall’s beautiful candlelit piece in the SWP. With TSMGO leading the way with their approach to casting, I would be intrigued to see how this would turn out.
2. The Alchemist (1610) – Ben Jonson
This is pretty much the perfect play, right? I’ve seen a couple of different versions of it and both have hit the spot, but I reckon it would work really well as a piece of Zoom theatre – especially as TSMGO have excellent form as far as physical comedy goes. The fact that Lovewit escapes the city right at the beginning of the play because of an outbreak of plague also ties in pretty neatly in the current ongoing situation.
1. The Two Noble Kinsmen (c. 1613-1614) – William Shakespeare & John Fletcher
I’ve only seen this once before, during Michelle Terry’s inaugural season as AD at Shakespeare’s Globe, and I think I need some TSMGO magic to be worked on it as I don’t remember a massive amount about the story of the play. I know it’s based on The Knight’s Tale from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the production I saw had clog dancing in it, but that’s about it…
What do you think? I could’ve been predictable and just selected from the Shakespeare apocrypha, but I do like a bit of variety. Plus with Read Not Dead not able to function for the past year it would be interesting to see if TSMGO could temporarily take its place in bringing rarities to the masses, and ultimately complement it by virtue of its global platform.
I’m sure the team have their own ideas about possible productions, as well as the future of the company, but hey – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!