Of the nine shows I’ve seen at this Fringe (at the time of writing), one third have had ‘Shakespeare’ in the title. What can I say, I’m a English Lit graduate with a fondness for theatre, it’d be weird if I didn’t like Shakespeare. This time, however, was slightly different. Instead of another show featuring interpretations of Shakespeare’s work, here we have a show that explores a slightly liberal interpretation of the bard’s own personal life and loves. An ambitious project, and one easy to get wrong, but, for the most part, I think this show gets it right.
The script, it’s true, is not incredible, but there are some delightful moments and a lot of them. Donna Soto-Morettini is clearly a talented writer, but still it does feel as though there’s something missing. The action and pacing drags in a few places, most significantly towards the end. It feels at times as though the show is struggling to fill it’s 1hr 10 minute runtime which begs the question of why it’s 10 minutes longer than a traditional Fringe show at all. I wasn’t a huge fan of various characters feeding later-famous quotes to Shakespeare either, charming as that conceit occasionally was. More often than not it felt a little forced and detracted from the action.
Those criticisms out of the way, let’s get on to the positives. The commitment to Shakespearean style dialogue is done admirably and enjoyably, with the few deviations being successfully played for laughs. The acting too is of a high quality. James Boal portrays the part of Shakespeare with boldness, power, and impeccable annunciation. His performance is utterly believable right from the off and serves as a firm foundation for the rest of the play to build around.
Two of the runaway talents in this production, however, are undoubtedly Rachel Robertson and Michael Brown, who display great versatility as actors and are able to bring to life and distinctly differentiate between strikingly different roles. Robertson’s chalk and cheese portrayal of her two characters, Agnes Hathaway and Launce, are a particularly fine example of her skills in this regard. Rebecca Forsyth is another standout, with a bewitching stage presence that insists on being paid attention to whichever part she’s playing.
Tegan Gourlay, and Grace Gilbert, while not as big stage personalities as some of their castmates, play their roles with enough endearing sincerity to make their performances an enjoyable and applause-worthy aspect of this production.
The set-changes were a little clunky but I’m going to forgive them for that. I’ve done a show in that performance space before and know what a bugger it is for that sort of thing.
At the end of the day, this is a good show that I recommend taking in. With a few script revisions, and the same talented cast, this could be a great show.