Dull, self indulgent and opaque. In the 2nd act, Johnson's remark, that having nothing to say didn't seem to stop some people, earned an ironic titter throughout the audience, which probably woke a few of us up. The other entertainment was the programme, one page of which contains a 'Shakespeare timeline', highlighting key events and literary achievements. The next page, without any apparent sense of irony, contains the 'Edward Bond' timeline. Talk about self promotion! - Catholic_petdog
21 Mar 12
Graham Norton made a nice joke about the posters for Bingo causing confusion amongst the residents of Southwark. If any venture inside the Young Vic they may be further puzzled as to why a play ostensibly about Shakespeare drones on at length about agricultural enclosures - the only eyes down here is for those drifting off to sleep. Patrick Stewart has done some marvellous work with the RSC and as Macbeth in recent years so I have no idea why he is so attracted to this play which portrays Shakespeare as an exploiter of peasants and as a vicious and neglectful husband and father, with almost no historical evidence that I am aware of. Richard McCabe lifts the spirits with a terrific cameo as a magnificently Falstaffian Ben Johnson but Bingo (ridiculous title) is a tiresome Marxist dialectic from Edward Bond which has unfairly attempted to hijack Shakespeare's reputation. - David Baxter
07 Mar 12
I throughly enjoyed this play and Patrick Stewart did a fantastic job! - James
06 Mar 12
Dear Mr. Bond, please cut the first half, get rid of the snow scene as it does not tell us anything new. Rarely, felt so sorry for the actors - Elisabeth
06 Mar 12
I hadn't seen this play before, though I have seen some other Bond plays. I have seen Patrick Stewart, though, lots of times. One of the earliest times was 20 years ago, performing his one-man version of Dicken's "A Christmas Carol." Then he came across as the most paternal affable warm-hearted cheery fellow, and he warmed the cockles of everyone's hearts at Christmas time (I was much younger then). So to see him playing such a money grubbing passive miserable wretch of a man now in this was quite shocking. And that's the point of the play, and the reason the production cleverly casts Patrick Stewart as Bond's fatalistic capitalist Shakespeare. Two icons reduced to the bare bones of materialistic greed in one fell swoop. But Bond has facts behind him, and the play is genuinely disturbing, suggesting as it does, how useless great artistic exploits can be in the real world. Now, while I may not like the pace or the theme of this depressing portrayal of man's selfish desire to gorge at the trough at the expense of others, on account of the fact Stewart is morosely pensive and superb in this, and the fact that the play made me think, I reckon it's worth four difficult stars. Catherine Cusack, Ellie Haddington, Michelle Tate and Richard McCabe are also great in this. Of course, I still rate Shakespeare over Bond any day. 4 STARS. :) - steveatplays
29 Feb 12
Well no-one can say I didnít give Edward Bond a fair chance. Eight plays in 18 months. In truth, Iíd have probably given up at 7 if it wasnít for Patrick Stewart leading this one. I feel perfectly entitled to put him in my Ďproblem playwrightsí box with Pinter and Chekov, turn the key and move on.
This is a play about Shakespeare (or is it?). I have no idea if itís historically accurate (how could you know?). Will has returned to Stratford and given up writing Ė ĎI have nothing left to sayí. He hates his daughter and his wife and heís just waiting to die. Itís the early 17th century, the time of the Enclosures Act, so a land grab by the rich is in full progress and Shakespeare is seemingly complicit as a landowner who turns a blind eye. Heís also watching as a young girl on the run is on the receiving end of rough justice, first beaten, then killed and displayed in public. Heís wrestling with his conscience.
Itís as obtuse as all the other Bond plays. Iím happy to be challenged in the theatre, but I canít help feeling that this is just covering up the fact that he doesnít really have anything profound or coherent to say. The first half is extraordinarily dull. If you return for the second (and a lot didnít) it briefly comes alive in a London tavern scene where contemporary playwright Ben Johnson (an excellent Richard McCabe) gets Shakespeare drunk and rants about anything and everything.
There are some good performances, but Stewart is wasted in this. Heís played it before and quite why he wanted to return to it is beyond me. Thereís nothing wrong with the production, itís just not a good play. Iím prepared to accept that itís a matter of taste, but it is without a conscience that I give up on a playwright who just doesnít really do anything for me. To see any more Bond would be just masochistic, Iím afraid. - Gareth James
28 Feb 12
This didn't qualify as a play. Disparate scenes showed a deeply depressed WS. The laughingly called playwright was trying a hatchet job but just about severeed his own legs. Pur poor drivel. I liked McCabes Ben J - Jeremy Baker
17 May 10
Confused staging (those accents, could scarcely understand one), stupid garden gate, some poor diction and annoying shouting. Few worthwhile performances - Richard McCabe/Ben Johnson outstanding (albeit a typical Bond diatribe), good gardener and housekeeper. Plot dodges around trying to hit too many targets. Stewart virtually silent all the first half - I noticed 8-10 people did not bother to return. Stewarts Shakespeare did not engage me at all - very very flat performance, and he seemed self-pitying, ineffective in all aspects of his life, and not at all recognisable as the great writer he was (and Bond most surely isnt). But maybe that was the intent. Dont bother to go - it is not an enjoyable evening, on any count. - Oncewas12
12 May 10
slow - better second act. Gate business irritating. Dialect hard to understand. Patrick Stewart looked the part - great face. But longed for more emotion. Ben Johnson woke me up. The gardener and housekeeper did very well. Interesting but overall dissapointing. - Shirley Smith
08 May 10
A perfect evening out! The beautiful, cleverly effective set, the wonderful performances of all the actors (not a weak link among them), with exceptional excellence of Sir Patrick Stewart and Richard McCabe, made me leave the theatre in a pensive mood, reflecting on the play, past and present society and my own role in the greater part of things. A memorable thought provoking experience. - Ender
29 Apr 10
Why wouldnt Domingo sing 'Aida', anywhere? He has done many times. What an odd analogy! - epstein
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