COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE [ABRIDGED]
CTW at the Old Court Theatre
"Brush Up Your Shakespeare" playing as we wait for curtain up.
Not so much brushed up, it turns out, as bashed around and buggered about, with banter and bathos galore from three very funny actors.
It's the Reduced Shakespeare franchise, of course, but crucially un-American, with only the sneakers and the cheerleaders to remind us of its US origins.
Imagine walking out of McDonalds into your local Leon. The service may not be as slick, but you come out feeling much more satisfied and a little less guilty.
Generous helpings of R and J [Catherine Bailey a great Romeo] and Hamlet, including some seriously hysterical audience participation [Go Sarah!] and the obligatory straight speech movingly delivered by Bart Lambert, who also has a nice line in mewling and puking as practically all of the tragic heroines. Barry Taylor's considerable comic talents are well employed, not least in almost persuading us that's he's a serious academic …
Are you one of those people "who don't know their Shakespeare from their Fifty Shades" ? Would you like to shout at Ophelia, hear Othello rapped, see Troilus and Godzilla, watch sock puppets spout The Murder of Gonzago, share Titus Androgynous's cookery tips ?
Emma Moriaty and Rebecca Errington have their hilarious show at the Old Court all this week, and then Wednesday through Saturday of next week too.
Jim Hutchon saw it for the Chelmsford Weekly News –
Staging 38 Shkspre plays in an average two hour production takes a lot of doing, especially when there are only three of you. Clearly a lot of shrinking has to be done and corners cut. Emma Moriaty’s epic production really nailed this, and produced an evening of real pleasure – and not just for Shakespeare buffs.
Set before the evocative backdrop of the Globe’s structure, there was no need here to ‘brush up your Shakespeare’ as three highly-energetic characters threw themselves – literally – into snapshots and witty repartee in portmanteaux versions of some of the memorable moments of the famous plots.
Few laughter lines were passed up in the frenetic drive to get through the action, as Catherine Bailey, Barry Taylor and Bart Lambert passed themselves off as princes, villains, Jews, posh Italians, kings and Scottish people with enormous verve and commitment. In fact, while a lot of the humour is schoolboy gag stuff, the committed players took their characters seriously – the only way to keep sustained humour going on stage – a real tribute to their professionalism and Moriaty’s direction.
Repeated for a second week from 24th to 27th April, this is an evening worth the money for banishing austerity blues.