Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources

Home

All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
Shakespeareana

Available versions

1936: George Cukor

1954: Renato Castellani

1965: Val Drumm, Paul Lee

1968: Franco Zeffirelli

1976: Joan Kemp-Welch

1978: Alvin Rakoff

1993: Norman Campbell

1994: Alan Horrox

1996: Baz Luhrmann

2010: Dominic Dromgoole

2013: Carlo Carlei

2014: Don Roy King, David Leveaux


Adaptations

1961: West Side Story

1992: Efim Gamburg, Dave Edwards (animated)


Related

2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 2


Romeo and Juliet
1978: Alvin Rakoff

This play (part of the BBC Shakespeare Plays) is now available to the public, and can be found in the “Tragedy” five-play set from Ambrose Video, and in other formats. Its cast is extremely solid, and in addition to the leads, Patrick Ryecart (Romeo) and Rebecca Saire (Juliet), neither of them very prominent at the time, it includes Michael Hordern (Capulet), John Gielgud (Chorus), Anthony Andrews (Mercutio), and Alan Rickman (Tybalt). Rickman was all but unknown himself at the time, though he has become quite well-known in the interim.

The acting is almost uniformly excellent. Ryecart’s Romeo is less of a spineless milquetoast than most others, and (I think) more appealing on that account, though he brings an occasional severity to the role that some may find unsympathetic. Rebecca Saire (age 15) is somewhat less experienced, obvioiusly, but she is in the right age range for a change, and she brings a genuine freshness to the part. Her diction is not quite as well tuned than the veterans, but she is more than adequate. Anthony Andrews’ Mercutio is a genuine stand-out, though I can’t entirely say that I like his portrayal. He brings a rather unsettling jerky delivery to the Queen Mab speech, punctuating it with abrupt little laughs that become wearying long before it’s over. Michael Hordern’s initially comic Capulet, on the other hand, is more finely tuned than might appear on first viewing, and in its turn achieves some real emotional depth; Rickman brings his rich dark voice to a wonderfully malevolent Tybalt, who is perhaps a little less nuanced than one might have wanted to see. The role of the Nurse, one of the great parts for an older actress, is carried with great aplomb by Celia Johnson, a long-time veteran of the English stage who made only a few film appearances, and she is nearly perfect.

As with most of the BBC Shakespeare series, the production values are modest when contrasted with fully cinematic treatments, and here it must be measured against the Cukor, Castellani, and Zeffirelli versions that preceded it. But the sets are less stagey and the art direction less Spartan than many of the others of the series, and I find it eminently watchable. It is as faithful a production as one is likely to see, and complete, or nearly so, into the bargain.


Abraham: Bunny Reed

Apothecary: Vernon Dobtcheff

Balthasar: Roger Davidson

Benvolio: Christopher Strauli

Capulet: Michael Hordern

Chorus: John Gielgud

First Citizen: Alan Bowerman

First Watch: Jeremy Young

Friar John: John Savident

Friar Lawrence: Joseph O’Conor

Gregory: Jack Carr

Juliet: Rebecca Saire

Lady Capulet: Jacqueline Hill

Lady Montague: Zulema Dene

Mercutio: Anthony Andrews

Montague: John Paul

Musician: Danny Schiller

Nurse: Celia Johnson

Old Capulet: Esmond Knight

Page: Mark Arden

Page: Robert Burbage

Paris: Christopher Northey

Peter: Paul Henry

Potpan: Gary Taylor

Prince Escalus: Laurence Naismith

Romeo: Patrick Ryecart

Sampson: David Sibley

Second Watch: Jeffrey Chiswick

Tybalt: Alan Rickman