Thursday, July 26, 2012

'Brush Up Your Shakespeare' by Penny Gorman

26 July 2012

On Sunday evening the RSC Open Stages National Showcase moved into the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon for its final two performances. The first of these was ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’, a marvellous production by the Luxulyan Amateur Dramatic Society from Cornwall, written and directed by Luxulyan member Penny Gorman. ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ follows a bored schoolgirl, Suzannah, who is persuaded to take a trip on an open-top tour bus in Stratford-upon-Avon, only to discover that this bus doesn’t visit the usual tourist attractions. Instead it travels through ‘Villains’, ‘Kings’, ‘Tragic Heroes’, ‘Lovers’ and ‘Clowns’. This allows the show to incorporate many of Shakespeare’s most famous scenes, visiting the best-known plays and encountering the most infamous Shakespearean characters along the way. This was an inventive, ambitious and versatile production, featuring some great acting and some very ingenious touches. Puck acts as a linking character throughout the story and is portrayed as a modern teenage girl wearing a hoodie and a mock-French Connection T-shirt bearing the letters ‘PCUK’. And when the ass-headed Bottom becomes infatuated with Titania he performs a striptease, revealing his boxer shorts, the back of which bear the informative word ‘BOTTOM’. ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ was clever and extremely entertaining. It felt occasionally as if it hadn’t really decided whether it was aiming at children of Suzannah’s age or adults but it was incredibly enjoyable nonetheless.

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