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Settle in for Shakespeare like you’ve never seen it before

Modern makeovers, big name actors and sumptuous sets.

Shakespeare’s never looked so lavish. Check out these revamps being broadcast to the big screen:
Shakespeare article NT Live: King Lear - Lloyd Hutchinson (Fool) and Ian McKellen (King Lear) at Duke of Yorks Theatre. Photo Johan Persson

King Lear, 27 November

In a nutshell: King decides to test the love of his three daughters. Plan backfires and he loses power — and his mind.
This production... received 5 star reviews during its Chichester Festival run last year — mainly thanks to a powerhouse lead performance by Sir Ian McKellen in the titular role. This West End transfer is one of the hottest theatre tickets of the year, especially as McKellen has said its his last ever stab at Shakespeare (no!).
What’s new? We’re pretty sure tailored suits, army camouflage kegs and Barbour jackets weren’t around in Shakespeare’s time. Guns, police sirens and hospital drips also make this a thrilling and very modern take.
Big screen detail: In the pivotal thunderstorm scene, when King Lear roams the heath in a rage, McKellen gets a nightly soaking from a rain machine.

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Shakespeare article RSC Live: The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor, 12 September

In a nutshell: Man attempts to get rich quick by seducing two wealthy suburban wives. Plan backfires and women outsmart man.
This production... might be produced by the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), but you’ve never seen the Bard done like this before. Director Fiona Laird cites The Only Way is Essex as a massive influence — and has promised a modern, glamorous and funny take on a much loved play.
What’s new? Plenty of fake tan, false lashes and hair extensions, while the wives plot their revenge in the local nail salon.
Big screen detail: Lez Brotherston is known for his work with Matthew Bourne, designing the costumes for productions like Sleeping Beauty, Edward Scissorhands and Swan Lake. For this production, expect nothing less than a total glitz and glamour-fest — including diamanté studded stilettos.

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Shakespeare article NT Live: Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra, 6 December

In a nutshell: Man and woman are torn between love and duty. It doesn’t end well.
This production... has star power and a seriously sexy vibe, with Ralph Fiennes playing Marc Antony and Sophie Okonedo taking on the role of Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt.
What’s new? The fated lovers are in modern dress — which includes a luxurious gold satin robe for Cleopatra — and they get up close and personal on a velvet chaise longue. Shakespeare goes luxe.
Big screen detail: Tunji Kasim returns to The National’s stage after an acclaimed turn alongside Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston in last year’s sold-out Network. This time, he’s playing Antony’s rival, Octavius Caesar.

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