Thursday, September 21

The Rubbish Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet – Liverpool Theatre Festival

The theatre gods smiled on Liverpool’s Bombed Out Church this afternoon and kept the rain away for The Rubbish Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet. Three actors present this comic tomfoolery with plenty of physicality, energy, adlibs, bad wigs and a packet of sausage rolls. 

This immersive theatre relies heavily on audience participation and luckily there were lots of young people in the audience willing to get up and be part of the show, so us adults didn’t have to.

Lee Hithersay, Alex MacDonald along with Thomas Galashan, who was making his debut this afternoon, showed that underneath all their clowning about and slapstick they can actually act. They are professions as Hithersay reminds us.

This funny, accessible, hour-long show gives us the main gist and characters of the well-loved story, interspersed with modern bits of business where they come out of character and argue amongst themselves.  Sometimes this worked better than other times and occasionally it felt a tad self-indulgent -deliver the gag and move on!  Having said that, the Shakespearean characters were very amusing MacDonald’s Paris as a Frenchman and Tybalt ‘the cat’ sly and imposing, Hithersay’s Juliet -strangely very convincing and Galashan’s Romeo throwing himself all over the stage as the love-sick romantic.  Hithersay and MacDonald have apparently been doing this buffoonery for a good while and I’m sure every show is different, that’s what makes it fun.  Yes, its all a bit crazy but that’s what we need on a grey august afternoon when the rest of the world’s full of real tragedies.

This style of delivering Shakespeare obviously goes down well in schools with gags about suppositories and men in wigs and beards kissing – or not.  A cross between Reduced Shakespeare and Horrible Histories but if all the silliness gets them to enjoy the Bard a little more, good on them!

There’s no set or costumes to speak of except a handful of props, so it makes for travelling light and travel they will – all the way to Edinburgh Festival for a whole month. They will certainly work up a sweat with that many performances (sweat being a feature of their production.) Hopefully the Edinburgh audiences will bit their thumbs, do the macarena, deliver messages, attend the wedding…. and everything else the cast asks of them. This is a fun-packed frolic for all the family!

The fourth annual Liverpool Theatre Festival continues until Sunday 30th July 2023 and will have featured a total of 24 performances. This year’s Festival is dedicated to Liverpool playwright Mark Davies Markham, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Mark premiered his one-woman play 2Gorgeous4U at last year’s LTF.

Reviewer: Bev Clarke

Reviewed: 27th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.