The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1326 Friday, 12 August 2005
Date: Thursday, 11 Aug 2005 20:07:34 -0700
Subject: All Sorts of Shakespeare on the Fringe
The Bard unplugged on the 'Fringe'
By Christopher Andreae
Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 12, 2005
EDINBURGH - One place William Shakespeare is alive and kicking is
Edinburgh. The annual arts extravaganza in the Scottish capital kicks
off with the Festival Fringe (through Aug. 29). It is the wild gosling
that long ago outgrew the tame mother goose (the official festival,
which runs from Aug. 14 to Sept. 4).
Anyone can perform on the Fringe - amateur, professional, and
in-between. And this year a sizable bunch of Fringe performers are in
love with Shakespeare. (Whether Shakespeare would be in love with the
Fringe is a matter of speculation.)
Here are some of the things the Fringe is doing to the Bard:
--Sweet Moon Theatre is doing "Bottom's Dream" - a 55-minute version of
"A Midsummer Night's Dream." The Munich Shakespeare Company is staging
the same confusing frolic full of mischievous fairies and quarrelsome
lovers as a pop opera. An American high-school theater festival group is
setting "Midsummer" in the 1920s. The play is also transformed into
dynamic physical theater by the Yohangza Theatre Company from Japan.
And that's just the "Dream."
--"The Comedy of Errors," with "a strong Commedia del Arte flavor" is
offered, in all its wild confusion, by Cygnet Theatre. A "punchy
version" of "The Merchant of Venice" is being presented by a group
called Poor Tom.
--Ariel Productions are playing "Richard II," describing it as a
"Shakespearean political thriller." There is an outdoor "Taming of the
Shrew" by a loch, a musical version of "As You Like It," and a drag
version of "Richard III."
--As for "Romeo and Juliet," four variations can be seen - one by an
Austrian-and-Scottish youth collaboration; one ("sexy, vibrant,
passionate") by the About Turn Theatre Company; one, straying rather far
from the original, called "Romeo & Juliet - Deceased" in which Romeo, in
limbo, falls out of love with the heroine; and a high school
contribution, "Romeo, You Idiot."
--"Twelfth Nights" abound. Some are theater with music. Some go the
whole way and turn the play into a musical.
A highly professional version is the brainchild of actor Giles
Brandreth. It is enchanting and funny from start to finish, sticking
respectfully to Shakespeare's words (though cutting them quite
considerably), but breaking frequently into song, mainly Hollywood
movie-musical style: "Gigi," "Hello Dolly," "Oklahoma!" Strange how it
all seems quite natural, really. "If music be the food of love...."
--But no play is more ubiquitous than "Macbeth." All sorts of versions
and variations abound: one performed by four actors; another a stylized
version; still others taking audiences on a walking tour of Edinburgh's
Old Town or turning the play into a multisensory experience.
An impressive production by the University of Cambridge ADC Theatre cuts
the action in "Macbeth" to one hour, making it fast moving indeed -
maybe too fast moving to offer a convincing look into the thought
processes of this time-conscious play. But it contains much fine acting,
competently spoken verse, and compelling movement. A first-class student
--And there is also, if you have the stamina, "Shakespeare for
Breakfast" - a witty, slick, very funny running together of
Shakespearean characters in a Bardic take on the British
reality-television show, "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here." It's
performed by five young women who make you believe there are 15 of them.
Served with croissants. Surely Will would approve. Of the croissants, at
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