Thursday, 10 February 2011

Will Shakespeare - but not as you know him...

Wondering why you'd want to come and see an evening of Shakespeare? Actually, there's not an Elizabethan costume in sight*, and while you might hear a few words of the actual Bard, they're more likely to be sung to the tune of Let's All Go Down the Strand...

*unless you count the crown and cloak worn by Huw on one occasion, which owes far more to The Art of Coarse Acting than to anything else

According to the writers, Messrs Luscombe & McKee, “The idea for The Shakespeare Revue came about on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April 1993, when the RSC was planning a celebratory service in Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church. Light relief was needed among other more serious readings, and in searching for something suitable, we were reminded of just how many comic writers have used Shakespeare as raw material for their work. Unearthing such pieces became a hobby, until eventually the outline of a stage show began to emerge.”

The result is a wonderful cornucopia of music and words, song and dance, comedy and pathos – in the irresistible style of Variety. Remember those wonderful Revue shows of the mid-20th century? The mixture of styles and eras owes as much to end-of-the-pier shows and concert parties as it does to the West End; a different scenario is before your eyes approximately once every three minutes.

Mr Shakespeare provides our theme, of course, and in a couple of cases the precise words, but for most of the show it’s the characters and the situations that provide the links, viewed from a rather different perspective. Cleopatra is deeply insulted that Signor Verdi wrote operas for Macbeth and Othello, but never for her. The four Ladies of London mourn the passing of Sir John Falstaff in the most pathetic song imaginable. Henry V, Hamlet and Juliet implore us to give them a rest. Even Just William finds his way in there. And be ready for the Princess and her maid Alice, from Henry V, to bring you almost word-for-word Shakespeare as you’ve never heard it before. The writers are drawn from across a century of creativity, with (among others) Victoria Wood, Fry & Laurie, Bill Oddie & Tim Brooke-Taylor, Sandy (The Boyfriend) Wilson, Fascinating Aida and Bernard Levin all contributing their talent.

Cassie & Selwyn are thrilled to have assembled a wonderful cast: they come with a wide variety of styles and experience, but every one is rising with aplomb to the challenges we’ve thrown at them. Gill Tichborne, Angela Rowe and Abi Dennington-Price are well known to Barn audiences – but you may be surprised by vocal talents that have been largely hidden from you until now; Trevor Burton joins us for the first time, having been lured away from the Maddermarket for the occasion; Rob Tiffen and Charlotte Couture came along as new members to the last AGM to see what was going on at the Barn, and were immediately inveigled into taking part; and our own personal Big Friendly Giant, Huw Jones, comes to us courtesy of his singing teacher, Jeff Davies. With the utterly indispensable Mike (Tinks) Carson backstage, Mike Beavis and Dean Weston wrestling with a lighting plot that changes cue every three minutes, and Rudy Lapeer’s valued help with choreography, you are assured of an evening of laughter, foot-tapping and surprises that you won’t forget in a hurry. No previous knowledge of Shakespeare is required…

The Shakespeare Revue
Created by Christopher Luscombe & Malcolm McKee
Directed by Cassie & Selwyn Tillett
17-19 & 23-26 February at 7.30 pm, matinee 2:30 pm 26 February
Sewell Barn Theatre :
Tickets available £8/£6 from Jarrolds: 01603 697248