Speaking as an English Literature student, I’ll happily admit that I’m always a slut for Shakespeare-based comedy, never more so than when it comes the slide-splitting specialists that are Drake’s Drummers.
I think ‘reliable’ is the phrase I’d use to describe the company. I always know I’m going to be thoroughly amused when watching one of their productions, though I might not always anticipate by exactly what means. There are some old jokes in the show, as there are in any, but there’s also some fresh, uniquely Drummersque humour that always tickles me in a manner that feels pleasingly unique. There’s a zaniness to some of it that’s very appealing. It makes effective use of the ridiculous and absurd to provide moments of hilarity that more than once left me struggling for breath.
It helps that this company is entirely made up of people I count as friends. Knowing, at least some, of the history between these players, and having seen them in various on and off-stage settings in the past, adds an extra layer of appreciation to an already enjoyable performance. Understanding the odd in-joke here and there is always a treat for any person watching friends perform.
‘Age of Oberon’ is a show that knows exactly what it is, and it profits from that. It’s silly, wonderfully so, but also intelligent. A tad niche perhaps but I think even Shakespeare novices can find something to enjoy in the silliness. For those of us who are well-versed in the work of the bard (there was no way I could write that where I didn’t sound pretentious) there’s a lot to love in the stream of references, something of them delightfully obscure, and the way in which the show uses them for comic effect. Some jokes don’t hit the mark but most do, and that’s what you stay for.
I’ve seen a few Shakespeare parodies in my time but those from Drake’s Drummers remain my favourites. I was happy to see them do so well in audience both days I came along, and I certainly hope this isn’t the last I see of them as a company.