Fancy some Love Island Shakespeare?
If part of that doesn’t really appeal, fear not – there is plenty of the other to keep you happy! ‘Shakespeare for Breakfast’ has been running for decades and knows how to provide fun entertainment in its mixing of modern pop culture with bardic puns, a good dose of original plot and yes, actual Shakespeare lines, all served with a croissant and beverage (hot or cold, as you prefer).
On this occasion, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ plays out within the setting of a reality tv programme for would-be lovers. For those – such as myself – not familiar with that particular form of pop culture, the show still provides plenty of laughs and sometimes you pick up on specific references / tropes through other audience members’ responses. I imagine it works the other way round, too, for those not that familiar with the Shakespeare references.
Love mix-ups, meddlings and matches follow the Shakespeare play, and S4B’s usual multi-roling works as ever, including with meta moments, such as the audience knowing some character’s appearance is going to have to be handled imaginatively given there are only 4 performers. These players show their versatility with comedy both of the modern variety and Shakespearean kind, and some of the best parts are in fact when they get to really flow with the original play’s lines.
There is ‘fake Shakespeare’ for modern ease and silly rhymes, itself a mix of well-written and really rather dodgy. The actors do not seem to have the time, though, to make something of this. They are having to power through a somewhat over-laden piece for the time allotted, meaning there are ideas, set ups and lines not being fully realised, committed to and relished. This occasionally contributes to a forced comedy feel and lack of believability – the latter as vital to comedy as to any drama – and it is not because the cast has trouble with truthful playing as a whole.
This year’s ‘Shakespeare for Breakfast’ is an entertaining glimpse at ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ through a popular tv lens. It is delivered with flair, some song and alot of fun. Enjoy!
Reviewer: Danielle Farrow
Reviewed: 12th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: