Sunday, October 2

The Incomplete Works of Shakespeare – Shakespeare North Playhouse

I was very excited to visit the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, being from Liverpool and usually having to travel down to Stratford – upon- Avon or London to see these fine performances. It is such a joy to have this on my doorstep. The building is on the original site of the Shakespearean theatre that was originally built by Richard Harrington from 1597-1603.  This rebuild was under the Prescot 1597 Project and was funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund.  A great opportunity to have a modern building on the grounds of such a prestigious site.

Today the theatre was presenting the “incomplete works” in the small outdoor theatre known as the Sir Ken Dodd Memorial Gardens and again this felt very fitting, as I was a great fan of this wonderful Liverpudlian comedian. The garden was an arena of stone steps that portrayed an embedded photo of Ken and his lovey sayings, and these steps lay bare to an open area that was prepared with wigs and costumes as the audience entered the area.

The play was performed by four very talented cast members Mark Smith, Ran Byrne, Lee Hithersay and Rob Bond, who equally demonstrated their awesome skills and creativity to ad-lib and improvise with ease and myth. 

Although the bright summer afternoon some became cold and windy, the change in temperature did not dampen the spirits of the cast or the audience who filled the small outdoor area. The cast intermingled with the audience and playing drums and a mandolin, soon welcomed us to their unique show.

Although cold, the audience were soon clapping, laughing and cheering along with the cast and when the cast announced that William Shakespeare “Bill” was stuck in Leicester and could not join them the four members turned to the audience for ideas on what their uncompleted works were to be based upon. 

Given the challenging tasks that were offered by the tantalising audience – “midnight”, “2,000 years B.C”. and “who has taken by tangerines?”, the four were unperturbed at the task that lay before them and rightly so, as the four were “on it”- constantly changing accents, costumes and guises in a non-stop turmoil of myth, laughter and tomfoolery that had the audience ‘in stiches’ laughing. 

Their references to St Helens, The Wirral and Rock ferry made this a very local play, and this enamoured them to all who were there. Amazingly, the plot did cover all suggestions requested and after an hour of mayhem the uncompleted works of Shakespeare was completed.

The audience loved it and interacted enthusiastically and so did the four men- experts of improvisation, who I could imagine were very proud of their comical achievement.

The play is on again on Sunday 18th September at 1pm and at 3pm.

It’s a real family fun-filled afternoon for families of all ages.

Prices £3-17.00 (pay as you want). https://shakespearenorthplayhouse.co.uk/

Reviewer Jan Mellor

Reviewed: 17th September 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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