What do you get when you mix cabaret, Shakespeare and a gang of cross-dressing ladies? Shook Up Shakespeare’s Holiday Humour is the charismatic result. Set within the quirky Phoenix Artist Club, Holiday Humour is a charming, if directionless, night of entertainment. I left feeling happy, if not exactly moved by a convincing plot.
From its first moments, I had no idea what to expect or where we were going on this journey of Shakespearean discovery. However, I quickly relaxed into the eclectic vibe, taking comfort in the capable performances of a stunning cast.
Genevieve Berkeley-Steele is a particular standout in her Frank-N- Furter-esque portrayal of Moll, shepherding the show with confidence.
Also worth highlighting is Portia, played by Josie Paine, whose voice is a particular joy to hear, as well as Joanna Lucas (Viola) and Nell Hardy (Julia), who are blessed with some of the more story-driven moments . The ladies are all very compelling, capable and deliver sharp performances with flair. It’s a shame they aren’t given more chance to stretch their wings a little – they each deserved more of an opportunity to shine individually.
There are several enjoyable, catchy numbers and some serious musical skills on display. The few tender moments are little gems within the slightly manic movement overall. Helen Watkinson is to be commended on her direction of a entertaining if plot-less piece of theatre, though she could have done so much more with her highly gifted girl-gang.
Holiday Humour is a fun, energetic celebration of all the gender-bending ladies (and gents) of Shakespeare’s plays. This is tongue-in-cheek commentary of the best kind – never taking itself too seriously, with no lost moments. These classic female characters are used in plots and ploys throughout Shakespeare’s work but always remember their femininity in time to end up firmly marriageable – their traditionally dour fates are shed just for one night in favour of frivolity and vibrancy, a light-hearted and thoroughly pleasing exploration of women in Shakespeare. There’s a lot to relish in this short but sweet performance.
Review by Christine Calgaro
Shook Up Shakespeare present…
‘You sunburn’d sicklemen, of August weary,
Come hither from the furrow and be merry.
You are cordially invited to our Quad Centenary August Holiday Hooley in memoriam of when William Shakespeare shuffled off his mortal coil four hundred springs ago.
Join Shook Up Shakespeare for an evening ‘thrown upon thee in holiday foolery’ in honour of good old Will, our national treasure: playwright, poet… party planner!
We guarantee that this comedy cross-dressing come cabaret will be unlike anything you have ever seen before!
Written & directed by Helen Watkinson
Monday 22nd & Tuesday 23rd August 2016 at 6pm
The Phoenix Artist Club
1 Phoenix Street, London, WC2H 8BU
Tickets available online at: