Another oldie, back from the 2014 Sydney Fringe Festival. I laughed a lot in this one, and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would! It was very clever ^.^
The review was originally posted on Arts on the AU.
A Short Guide to Shakespeare is a delightfully comedic jaunt through the life and times of William Shakespeare.
The Short Guide is performed by two young men, one of whom actually penned the play (Alex Robson), who switch between three main roles without any real transition-performing as their ‘historical characters’ within play, as Shakespeare’s own characters and, at various points within the performance, simply as themselves.
The pacing of the performance is very well balanced between the historical facts it conveys and its light-hearted humor, which occasionally breaks the fourth wall.
“This is a lot of historical crap, I think we’re losing them”
It jaunts through Shakespeare’s birth, school life and marriage, to his life in London and the writing and performing of his works, to his eventual death and it’s aftermath. It delivers a surprising amount of very detailed facts (Shakespeare is credited for coining approximately 2,035 English words!) but the performance description is right- “this is NOT a lecture”. It’s lighthearted fun, and delivers its educational motives in a free flowing and easy manner.
Both boys really demonstrated their skill as actors and at Shakepearean prose, and the closeness of the space means that you are able to easily see facial expressions that might otherwise be missed. During the performance both perform a full passage of work from Shakespeare, and the change in style immediately affects the atmosphere of the audience. It’s an intriguing moment that really snaps the audience in and out of its seriousness. As the audience applauds in response to these reveries, one of the boys impishly remarks, “you flirts”.
‘A Short Guide to Shakespeare’ is a very enjoyable piece of theatre. At around an hour it feels like the perfect length to pop in to enjoy a few giggles, appreciate some talented up and coming actors, and learn a thing or to about “Shakey” and his plays while you’re at it!