Monday, 23 May 2016

Shakespeare as you have never seen him before (Contains lots of Death and Spaceships)

I had a very Shakespeare-heavy start to the week.

On Monday night I went to see a local, amateur production of 'Return to the Forbidden Planet'. For. those who have not seen it, this is Shakespeare's lost Rock and Roll masterpiece - very loosely based upon 'The Tempest', with words stolen from all of Shakespeare's other pays, and (live) music from Rock'n'Roll's heyday, and Dan Dare / Thunderbirds style.

it is tremendously entertaining! I saw a professional production (set and costume designs by Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame) years ago, and loved it, and have wanted to see it again, ever since.

I enjoyed this production, although it would have benefited from  larger stage, and the performances were a little patchy, but all in all, it was good fun. (And I still want to see another professional performance!) 

Then on Tuesday, I went to Bristol Old Vic to see SpyMonkey's 'The Complete Deaths'.

They have decided (as one does) to combine, in a single performance, all 75* of the on-stage deaths in Shakespeare's plays.

(*If you include the black, ill-favoured fly from Titus Andronicus. 76 if you include Ophelia despite the fact she really dies off-stage)
(C) Chris Riddell / SpyMonkey
I heard of the show via Chris Riddell,who illustrated a number of the Deaths, for the programme, and who has also illustrated the complete deaths card gayme,  and as one of places that the show is touring to was Bristol (as part of 'MayFest,) I decided to go.

It was a lot of fun - the deaths were presented in a huge range of ways. I am not certain whether it is Cleopatra's burlesque striptease, or all the Macbeth deaths presented via the medium of interpretive dance (by performers wearing flesh-coloured latex kilts) which will stay with me the longest . . .

The Shakespearean deaths are interspersed with interactions between the cast - Toby Park as the earnest intellectual, determined to confront the complacent audience with their own ultimate deaths, Aitor Basauri, longing to be a serious, Shakespearean actor (and having conversations with Shakespeare's disembodied head from time to time) Stephan Kreiss, nursing an unrequited (and at times very vocal) love for his colleague Petra, and  Petra Massey herself, determined to include the death of Ophelia. . .

I am not sure how much fun this would be if you don't have at least a passing familiarity with Shakespeare's plays, but if you do, it's highly entertaining, witty and extremely enjoyable.

Oh, and I bought the cards. And can now play a beautifully illustrated game of death top trumps.

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