Friday, July 19

ShakeiTuP: The Improvised Shakespeare Show – The Other Palace

How do you review a show which changes every night? Which is what ShakeiTuP: The Improvised Shakespeare Show which is currently playing at the Other Palace Theatre studio claims to do. 

The format of the show is that at the beginning of the first half the audience is asked, by acclamation, to choose which of the three genres of Shakespeare’s plays; histories, comedies and tragedies they would like to see. On press night we chose histories.  The audience is then then asked to suggest a lead character.  Avoiding obvious suggestions like King Charles, possibly for fear of litigation, an audience member suggested a friend of theirs, an entrepreneur and horticulturalist: so, King Keith it was.  Suggestions were then asked for a location and from various improbable suggestions Southend was chosen particularly for its long pier and dying palm trees.

The six actors then launched into their improvised show using, I suspect, a basic plot but this very quickly became overwhelmed as they inventively introduced references to Southend and Essex. The suggestion that King Keith wanted to invade the neighbouring kingdom of Barking in order to take control of the central line was particularly inspired allowing lots of jokes about underground stations.  It was clear that the cast were increasingly improvising and found it difficult at times to avoid corpsing at the acting of their fellow actors. The second half followed a similar format and on press night, a comedy about Clarissa and Glasgow was chosen.

The cast were extremely inventive, and the dialogue flowed almost without hesitation in spite of the improbable twists and turns that the plots took.   It requires a great deal of courage and performance assurance to put on a show of this nature and the cast managed it brilliantly.  It was absolutely hilarious, although I think one hour is probably long enough for bizarre theatre of this nature.

No knowledge of Shakespeare is required to follow the plays although Shakespeare aficionados will recognise some subplot themes. The cast were dressed in a version of Elizabethan dress complete with puffling pants and a spoke a parody of Shakespearian English with some very inventive rhyming but there was not a line of iambic pentameter in sight.

If you like madcap comedy, cleverly presented, then this is certainly for you. If you are not able to get to The Other Palace Theatre in Victoria this week they will be performing at the Edinburgh Festival.  They are well worth a visit.

By the way, if you are unwise enough to sit in the front row, as I did, you may get involved in the action, as I was, but it only added to the enjoyment of the evening.

Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd

Reviewed: 9th July 2024

North West End Uk Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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