Shakespeare Inc. articles

REVIEW: Alain English

June 11, 2012 | Category: Shakespeare Inc. articles | No Comments

Shakespeare Inc. 

Friday, March 5, 2010 

It was a pleasure to see “Shakespeare Inc.” in full last night after following it’s progress for a number of weeks. It is remarkable seeing how well the direction, the performances and the play continue to change over rehearsals and performances.

The play tackles the famous Shakespearean authorship question, suggesting that the man from Stratford was not who wrote the plays. It’s done here in a comical but nevertheless plausible way, with two Lord Stanley and Edward De Vere, two aristocrats who can’t publish plays because of their high status, teaming with Christopher Marlowe and Mary Sydney to form the “Shakespeare Inc.” of the title. The man from Stratford, William Shaksper (his change in name is a running gag), is here played as a clueless dolt the company use as a front to disguise their activities. Despite being a farce, this is still an important play and deserves a wide audience.

The set is a well-lit, mix of red and blue that is specific enough to convey the Elizabethan era without compromising the play’s comedic qualities. Andy McQuade said he thought the script was closer in spirit to “Blackadder” and Ben Elton/Richard Curtis-penned sitcoms than Shakespeare, and this is exactly what is conveyed.

As ever, it’s theatre and no two performances are ever quite the same. This was demonstrated to hilarious effect last night. The actors are brilliant and really embody their characters – a solid ensemble of performers. Mention however must be made of the brilliant Filip Krenus and Patrick James, playing Edward De Vere and Lord Stanley respectively. The latter in particular adlibs wonderfully in response to any stimulus – be it police sirens wailing outside the theatre, losing his shoe on-stage or even collapsing sets – “My God, the walls are falling down!”

After the darkness of their award-winning double-bill, this is a welcome change of pace for Second Skin Theatre and a well-directed comic tale of jealousy and intrigue.

REVIEW: The British Theatre Guide

June 11, 2012 | Category: Shakespeare Inc. articles | No Comments

Shakespeare Inc By Don Fried

Second Skin Theatre at 
Rosemary Branch Theatre

Review by Howard Loxton (2010)

This show is a hoot! There have been a host of theories about who wrote ‘Shakespeare’s’ plays – always assuming that the Stratford lad was incapable of writing them himself – and this is a delicious piece of froth that solves the problem to satisfy all the theorists, for it wasn’t Francis Bacon, an un-dead Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Oxford or the Earl of Derby (and certainly not Queen Elizabeth, though somehow she gets involved) but it was a camp consortium or conglomerate that involved all of them.

It starts off in the Mermaid Tavern with a not very talented actor (the character, not Corin Rhys Jones who plays him) with a definite Midlands accent, a little broader and it would be Brummagem, attempting to be a poet. ‘A horse, a horse’ he starts a poem about a stable boy whose amorata is a mare. He’s really pretty wet and prissily camp, next to him Christopher Marlowe (Anthony Kernan), trying to steal a drink, is butchly virile despite what you might have heard about him. Marlowe decides to offer his help provided Shagspere, or whatever his name is, foots his bar bill.

Enter a bunch of would be poets and dramatists, intellectual aristos of decidedly lavender persuasion who want a plebeian professional front man for their work. Patrick Jones’s William Stanley, Filip Krenus’s Edward de Vere and later Karl Dobby’s Francis Bacon with arsenic white maquillage are an outrageous, bejewelled and grope-happy bunch who put Shakespeare under contract and, with Marlowe providing the real talent and Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, as researcher, the team turn out a series of literary and dramatic successes in competition with builder’s son Ben Jonson (Tyler Coombes), who puffs a pipe to emphasise his masculinity.

It’s clever, outrageous and very funny. Of course it helps to know your Shakespeare quotes and the real life facts about its characters but it’s great fun even if you don’t. The two young kids in front of me were thoroughly enjoying it and I doubt if they would know their Hero from their Leander. It’s a joie d’esprit that doesn’t bear too close a scrutiny.

When the characters are going grey and Shakespeare has signed up with a rival with less talent it hardly reflects his later plays or the years of his retirement before his somewhat sudden demise and, if you are going to make obviously anachronistic references to Milton and the Garrick Club, then it would be wise to point them up as deliberate and intended to amuse. They are not and they are not funny, but most of this show romps along under Andy McQuade’s direction.

Nika Khitrova has given it a simple Jacobethan set and Valentina Ida contrived some wittily elaborated costumes from modest resources including a regal red-headed Queen Elizabeth (Maggie Turner, who doubles as the Mermaid’s barmaid).

It wasn’t a packed house the night I saw it but the cast were playing it to the hilt and seemed to be enjoying themselves almost as much as the audience. If you want a night out to cheer you up then this could be just what you need.

REVIEW: Remote Goat

June 11, 2012 | Category: Shakespeare Inc. articles | No Comments

“A farcical comedy of authors”

by Peter Carrington, Remote Goat

May 4, 2010

Shakespeare Inc. is an enjoyable farce with satirical and referential humour. The play transports the audience through the career of the young actor Shakspur and those who ‘helped’ him become a famous writer. All manner of historic figures are present, chiefly Anthony Kernan as Christopher Marlowe, lyrical verse galloping off his tongue, balanced by the camp manner and machivellian schemes of Filip Krenus and Patrick James as Edward De Vere and William Stanley; two noble patrons of the arts.

The play gives an exaggerated but well researched view of the times and the costumes created by Valentina Ida really bring it to life. The design of the whole production is good; the set evokes the time period without overshadowing the space and choice music grounds it. The stage is set then for a great farce.

The tale starts with Shakespeare at the beginning of his career and Marlow at his height then travels through the world of the Elizabethan theatre. Soon enough the play pokes fun at every historical figure of the time, lampooning Sir Francis Bacon (Karl Dobby in cool comedic form), Ben Jonson (an understated Tyler Coombes) as well as Queen Elizabeth I (a well cast Maggie Turner, giving gravitas to the Queen) and turning them all around Shakespeare as a crux for their greed and ambition.

Shakespeare Inc. is funny and referential beyond merely the Elizabethan era. Mostly this works well, but some audiences may find it throws open the fourth wall too far and unlike many comedies there are moments of pure seriousness.

Overall, this farce is still enjoyable to watch, with the great cast overcoming their opening night jitters and sending up the conspiracy of Shakespeare’s authorship with glee.

That playwright states that he wishes the audience to “Learn a little, to be moved a little and to laugh a lot,” and that is accomplished with this superb production that gets the audience bubbling with joy within the theatre and sending them scurrying to wikipedia after they have left.

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