This was a crazy mad hurtle through the Bard’s repertoire of comedies, histories and tragedies – with all the famous quotes you know so well. Dull it wasn’t!
The Southwick Little Shakespeare Company bravely set out to sample 37 scripts from the playwrights’ back catalogue. Three actors, dressed in drag, played multiple roles with rapid changes of costume and voice. It started with a simple stage, three arches and green lights.
It was fast paced and suitably ridiculous with plenty of humour and clowning. And there was even a dash of audience participation about where the plot/s should go next. Were the cast really going to dip in to all those plays? Even William Shakespeare might well have started banging from his grave: “impossible, impossible, impossible.”
But, the name on the tin was ‘the complete works’ albeit with the contractual get out clause ‘abridged’. So the cast (Mark Best, Jaqueline Harper and Dan Dryer) kept going in their splendid, manic way, shouting the words in ever wilder tones.
As we know “all the world’s a stage”. However, we probably didn’t imagine King Lear transposed into a player in an American football stadium. Nor could we think of a peckish Hamlet asking “perchance to eat” alongside haggling over whether “to be or not to be”! And who would have thought how juicy some of the famous lines sound when sung to a rap beat?
As always, the backstage production team – even for a play with just three actors – involves nearly ten times that number to bring a show to the stage.
Tony Browning, as director, once again brought together a production team that could handle the fast-paced script and suitably preposterous behaviour demanded of the actors. So there was an appropriately sparse – and often comical or plain ridiculous set of props and costume – while the lighting and sound effects enhanced the crazy concept of the performance.
The Barn, only a five minute walk from Southwick Station, continues to provide fascinating and well produced theatre alongside a friendly welcome. The bar is pretty good too! Get there soon.
Barn Theatre, Southwick, Thursday 15th September 2022
Photos by Miles Davies