Category Archives: Plays

The Bard and The Doctor: British Institutions Re-imagined at the Brighton Fringe

England’s largest fringe festival takes over the city of Brighton during the month of May. The Brighton Fringe brings the great, the good, and the ‘that-could-do-with-a-bit-more-rehearsing’ of the arts to the seaside city. Of the 740 events, my partner and I went to see two: I need a Doctor: The Whosical and Shit-faced Shakespeare.I Need a Doctor

The Whosical runs through the story of two Whovians and their need to dodge cease and desist letters from the litigious Stephen Moffat using a questionable principle of “different, but the same”. K-9 became K-10; Daleks became Exterminators; and the Cybermen are cunningly disguised as the Cyber-Gents (who tap dance!). Different, but the same. With just two of them playing all the characters; sometimes more than one at the same time. It’s a wonderfully warm and endearing tale, peppered with songs, which only adds to a story that is best described as cute. I laughed so hard that I was close to rolling in the aisles. Here’s a taster:

ShitShit-faced Shakespeare: a team of classically trained actors stumble through an abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing, whilst one of them is, well…. shit-faced. Shit-faced, for those of a non-UK background, means bladdered. That’s just as confusing, Gazebo’d? Tanked? Hammered? Legless? Smashed? Three sheets to the wind? Really drunk basically. This thoroughly enjoyable story is made all the better as the other (non-tipsy) actors attempt not to corpse in the face of alcohol-inspired anarchy.

The compere, wearing what can only be described as Dorothy’s Ruby Red Chucks (something I must own!) a morning suit jacket and braces, is in charge of the plastered actor, directing them back to the stage when they wander into the audience in search of a lighter, a cigarette, their boyfriend, a friend, a seat to rest or just a chat. My favourite bit was when she stopped the show to tell another actor they were hamming it up too much and should have another go.

Here’s footage of them on a different night:

Both performances highlight the fantastic variety of great performers in the UK and the unique twists that have been applied to iconic British institutions. If you ever want to go on a journey in a Police Box (different, but the same) or see an actor actually go rogue with Shakespearean material then these are definitely two shows to check out. Both will be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest fringe festival in the world.

 

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The Shakespeare Interpretations I’d Like to See

Happy Shakespeare’s birthday everyone!

I have been to see two productions of Romeo and Juliet in my time. The first was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s interpretation, romeo-and-juliettransposing this great love story to Fascist Italy. It was a moving production in black, grey, white and fierce red, with prison-like sets and breath-taking performances. The second was in a park of a summer’s evening, by a less-renowned organisation, which consisted of about four people trying to play all the parts. Much of the dialogue was shouted from behind curtains as actors frantically transformed from Tybalt to Lady Capulet. One of these productions moved me to tears, at the other, I had to work very hard not to laugh during the tomb scene. My point is, it’s not just the bard’s words that matter, but the whole production. Here are some I’d buy a front row seat in the circle for. 

Julius Caesar as played by the coalition government: ‘Et tu, Clegg?’

A gender reversed production of The Taming of the Shrew, wherein women would conspire to train men like ‘falcon(s)’ and say such questionable things as  ‘[I] am born to tame you’, and ‘Thy [wife] is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign’ while forcing their menfolk not to eat or sleep for several days. Let’s see how it looks when the silken Elizabethan shoe is on the other foot. 

midsummer-nights-dream-shakes-puckA Midsummer Night’s Dream should become A Midsomer Night’s Dream, set in the fictional, picturesque murder capital of England. It makes Puck lurking in the bushes just that little bit more sinister. Just imagine this on ITV1 of a Tuesday:

‘Thus I die. Thus, thus, thus.
Now I am dead,
Now I am fled,
My soul is in the sky.
Tongue, lose thy light.
Moon take thy flight.
Now die, die, die, die.’

A band of people in a remote location who must complete tasks to rejoin civilisation? It’s either The Tempest or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. I propose adding Ant and/or Dec to the former or Sir Ian McKellen to the latter, I don’t mind which. ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here,’ again, really could apply to either.  

One more: Hamlet in Space. Think about it. 

Have you seen any memorable Shakespeare plays? What version would you like to see? Tell me in the comments! 

As Shakespeare said, please like and share this post – thanks! 

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