If you have ever thought that a Shakespeare play is not for you, then think again. If your memory of Shakespeare is being force-fed his works at school, then think again. If you hold onto to the belief that Shakespeare is “boring” and “not relevant”, then think again, because The Too Friendly Theatre Company is about to (figuratively) blow your mind!
This versatile, multi-award winning group have chosen Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor’s hilarious romp through all things associated with the Bard to bring you “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged)”. The basic concept takes on the idea that seventeen-year-old Shakespeare, a young man bursting with creative genius but little experience or craft, created a massive work stuffed with almost every character and famous speech from his ensuing canon. Realising the result would be impossible to stage, Shakespeare would bury it — in a parking lot in Leicester, next to some bones that didn’t look that important…
Drawing on the furore that followed the discovery of the real Richard III’s bones under a parking lot in Leicester, the play imagines a group of actors “found” this work and decided it was their duty to perform it – no matter how bad it may be! The result is a loving, self-deprecating riff on Shakespeare’s complete canon, condensed into about 90 minutes and full of hilarious references to Disney, Winnie the Pooh, contemporary literature, film. If it’s anything involving Shakespeare in pop culture, it’s there!
This “first play” places all Shakespeare’s characters together in one universe, which continuously references itself. The basic storyline imagines all the characters messed with by Midsummer’s Puck and The Tempest’s, Ariel, whose supernatural rivalry creates a Sorcerer’s Apprentice-level of chaos, throwing familiar characters we know from Shakespeare’s later work into strange and unexpected combinations. So, Richard III is actually a really nice guy; “Much Ado About Nothing’s” Beatrice actually develops feelings for “Taming of the Shrew’s” Kate and Lady Macbeth is actually married to Hamlet! Every Shakespeare convention is here: cross-dressing, very, very dirty jokes (this one is not for kids), minimal set, quick costume changes, a shipwreck, twins, political puns and spontaneous breaking into song.
“You don’t need to be a Shakespeare expert to enjoy the humour in this play” advises director Joanne Wasilew. “The characters are all larger than life and so colourfully depicted in the script, that the language, much of which is taken from Shakespeare’s plays, is easy to follow.”
Of course, there are 1, 639 characters in the play (but don’t worry…it has been abridged!), so prepare for a lot of “multi-role-ing” from the actors. “It’s exciting and challenging to play so many characters” admits Jennifer Johnson, the newest member of the Too Friendly Theatre Company. “One minute I am Lady Macbeth, a strong, powerful woman and the next, I am Cardenio, an Italian prince! But that is what makes the show so funny.”
So, if you want your opinion on Shakespeare changed forever, and want to have a cracking good night out in the process, then head down to The Civic in Ormskirk from September 26th to September 28th. Tickets are £10 and available online via www.toofriendlytheatre.com or by phoning 01704 560 229.