Shakespeare As You Might Like It by Shook Up Theatre

Shakespeare As You (Might) Like ItYou are cordially invited to the Quad Centenary Wake in memoriam of William Shakespeare who shuffled off this mortal coil in 1616.

Join Shook Up Shakespeare for a night of rowdy and raucous entertainment at this boozy, brash and bawdy celebration of the bard.

Two actresses, three plays, six parts, limitless possibilities and just one more ingredient needed in this magnificent melting pot.. YOU!

Shook Up Shakespeare….well they definitely live up to their name! That is by no means a criticism. Before entering the theatre we were handed a “party bag” by a rather pleasant, attractive young lady. The Rosemary Branch Theatre is an intimate venue and upon entry we were greeted by a vivacious and welcoming lady offering us a stoop of wine or juice (apparently not wine, a mixture of alcoholic beverages) and a “much ado about muffin.” Not actually muffins either, a selection of cakes but the pun worked so we shall overlook that.

There was a pianist and violinist playing a selection of appropriate music whilst we waited for the play to start. The set was minimal with the piano, table, steps and a hat stand – at one point referred to as a palm tree – being all that was on stage, and needed for that matter. The lighting did the job, which was to light the entire stage and keep the audience in some light which was helpful for the audience participation. This wasn’t forced participation which I imagine is a relief for anyone petrified about such things.

It turns out the the ‘party bag’ lady was Helen Watkinson and the ‘bubbly peddler of drink and foodstuff’ was Roseanna Morris. Watkinson and Morris brought amazing energy to the play.

I am sat here writing the review with no real idea what happened, but it did get revealed Shakespeare was a party planner, which I never knew. Of course the tongue in cheek nature of the revelation lends me to treat it as artistic license over factual information! I think tongue in cheek is a great ways to describe the entire play. It is very well written and flows between ‘comedy sketch’ style dialogue between Watkinson and Morris to songs, dance,
Shakespeare’s literary genius, albeit delivered in a rather unique and unconventional style, and party games – this taking us back to the party planner side of the Bard. Both Watkinson and Morris were vocally good in the songs with Willow being my favourite to listen to.

Watkinson and Morris work really well together, I don’t know if this was their first outing as a duo or not but I definitely hope it won’t be the last.

I’m no expert in Shakespeare and have only seen a couple of his plays. Should more be like this quick 50ish minute play then I would have undoubtedly seen more. No it doesn’t follow the Bards intention but, damn, it is entertaining. Shakespeare purists would undoubtedly leave feeling disappointed if a true representation was wanted but I was left wishing it had been longer, which can only be a good thing. It is at the end of its run now so if you didn’t get the chance to see it then keep an eye out for their next project In the hope that will be just as good.

4 Stars

Review by Lee Cogger