Shakespeare Up Late!

William Shakespeare
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Upon hearing that his father has died, Hamlet rushes to Denmark. There he finds the ghost of his father, now in a wheelchair, lamenting the marriage of Hamlet’s uncle to his widowed mother.

Oh, never mind. Everyone knows Hamlet or at least a vague idea of the story. And not important if you aren’t.

And Shakespeare is great fun to present, in whole or some blender mash of the stories. One can only look at West Side Story or Kiss Me Kate or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead or the lesser Ten Thing I Hate About You or A Thousand Acres (the list is endless) for the more scholarly attempts.

And every year the Fringe is rife with the most catholic attempt to the barely recognizable interpretations. Some focus on a narrow view, The Donkey Show or Susannah York’s Shakespeare’s Women or Steven Berkoff’s Shakespeare’s Heroes and Villains or the hip-hop Romeo and Juliet. And the continuously Fringe favourite Shakespeare For Breakfast now in its 28th year. Most by necessity are cut to fit the Fringe format: 50 to 90 minutes.

And there's a boatload of Shakespeare again this year; enough to drown yourself. Shakespeare Up Late! is fashioned by the team that brings you Shakespeare For Breakfast.

This seasoned group starts with “Knock, knock” which is an idea much better suited to a run-up of Macbeth. Some of the better ideas are presenting Polonius as a sock puppet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern combined into a female named Rose.

Here the team that has brought you sometimes wildly successful, sometimes not so much, Shakespeare Up Late! has fallen short. ­

Not sure the up-late quality. Here would be a chance exploration into the darker or more bawdy aspects that are abundant in Shakespeare.

The cast is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They seem very comfortable on stage and together but haven’t exploited the adlib qualities that have made SFB so popular. The script and direction lacks the subtlety that has made some of the SFB offerings in the past so successful. We miss the interactive and improv elements. Perhaps, if they return next year, they will work out the kinks.

Reviewer: Catherine Lamm