Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) - The MAC (until 22/9) + tour

Bruiser Theatre Company’s adaptation of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) combines their reputation for minimal sets and prop-tastic madcap action in this humorous romp through the bard’s best bits. It’s a thoroughly modern show with contemporary references, visual humour, recognisable memes and an in vogue The Great Roman Bake Off.

All of the plays are covered: history, tragedy, comedy, the problem ones and even the sonnets. It’s quite a feat to keep the energy up with excerpts and loose approximations of the Avon dramatist’s work, the majority of which are alien to the audience.

But no matter your level of familiarity or ignorance, so many phrases from Shakespeare remain in modern parlance that you’ll never be lost for long with Keith Lynch, Gerard McCabe and Michael Patrick on stage to guide you. In fact, the cast give such a comprehensive overview that you’d swear they know some of the plays backwards.
“Praise be the Willy!”

In keeping with the original Elizabethan texts, there’s a fair amount of vulgar language, boke and humour as the 37 plays are brought to life over 97 minutes. It’ll appeal to young and old.

While Keith Lynch’s “To be or not to be” speech is deliberately ruined, Gerard McCabe manages to squeeze in a spine-tingling moment away from his comic asides and ad libs with the audience.

Unlike Bruiser’s 39 Steps which was trapped in a particular period, The Complete Works succeeds in borrowing distilling ideas from across the cultural panoply with the men in tights performing gangsta rap, picking up puppets and dropping into song and Ulster Scots when it suits. It’s laugh out loud funny throughout. And like Cabaret, the cast pick up instruments to accompany their show.

In perhaps the first play that I’ve been written into – for one morning only! – Bruiser’s version of this Reduced Shakespeare Company-inspired pantomime is fun, physical and even a little educational. Half an hour after the play finished and I’m still feeling breathless … and I was only sitting in the audience.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) plays in The MAC until September 22 before going on tour through Monaghan, Dún Laughaire, Ballymena, Coleraine, Newtownabbey, Drogheda, Claremirris, Ballina, Armagh, Derry and Antrim. (Full details of dates and venues on the Bruiser website.)

No comments: