Forgotten Films

Next (1989)

In this sublimely animated short film, William Shakespeare auditions for a bored cigar smoking theatre director Sir Peter Hall by presenting his entire canon, in mime, within five minutes using props and puppets. It’s a guessing game for the viewer, trying to work out which of the plays is being evoked within each set up and it takes a couple of watches to fully appreciate the ingenuity that has gone into making some of the more complex plays at all identifiable. My favourite, Measure for Measure, appears towards the end with Isabella shown keeping her virginity intact whilst Angelo is hoodwinked before the Duke expresses his amorous intent. What I love about the film is that director Barry Purves obviously has a great love not only for the bard but also for stage techniques with black drapes and reveals and mirrors employed throughout and the subtly of the character movements, which particular in the Hall figure are unnervingly human.

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