In this, the year of the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, do you feel as though you are suffering from a surfeit of The Bard? He is everywhere you look; in our theatres, on our screens, in our libraries, there are talks about him, lectures about him, quizzes about him, his plays are re-hashed, re-located, re-worked, re-examined, they are set in the 1920s, set in a circus, set on a spaceship, they are performed gender-blind, in mime, in the nude…
Is it any wonder we have Shakespeare indigestion?
Ironically, that in itself is an excellent reason to come and see Undead Bard, because Shakespeare himself is, apparently, just as fed up as we are with all the Will-Mania. He would like us to stop with the noisy, demanding hero-worship. He would like us to stop mangling his plays, wrangling over his identity and tangling his prose. He would like us to shut up. He would like to sleep.
The first half of the play takes the form of an erratic, intense lecture from a fervent Bardophile, an intense professor type who shoots rapid-fire theories at us before promptly debunking them and moving on to the next. As his hypotheses unravel, so does his mind; we watch helplessly as Shakespeare devours the hapless professor’s life until there is nothing left.
After the interval comes the main event – we get to meet the man himself! Yes, thanks to a distinctly dodgy séance, Shakespeare stands before us in all his glory – looking and sounding oddly like the professor and Robert Crighton himself, but that’s surely just a coincidence. He proceeds to clear up, in succinct and trenchant fashion, all of the mysteries surrounding his life and works. So that’s that. Or is it?
Crighton’s keen insights and sharp analytical theories are fascinating, and his energetic performance captivating. His is a stream of consciousness delivery, leaping athletically from Titus Andronicus to Thunder Cats without a stumble, supported only by simple lighting and an imaginative sound-track. This is stand-up at its finest; Crighton’s comic timing and keen observations on the ridiculous minutiae of the human animal are spot on.
However, make no mistake about it – Undead Bard is also educational. It is intelligent and informed and conveys its points without becoming preachy. It feels like a labour of love for Crighton, who has either done exhaustive (and presumably exhausting) research or he already had a mind-boggling level of knowledge of the life and works of Shakespeare.
If you love Shakespeare, if you would like to know more about Shakespeare, or if you are heartily sick of the very sound of his name, this is the play for you. A brilliantly original and entertaining performance.
Review by Genni Trickett
Milk Bottle Productions Presents…
By multi award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton
Shakespeare is dead, but he just won’t stop talking. His words are immortal, but they keep changing. Award-winning writer and performer Robert Crighton explores the current boom in Shakespeare and how everything is now devoted to his holy name. Undead Bard is an unholy smorgasbord of play, comedy, and music, pulling apart Shakespeare, Bardolatry, and the modern world for your pleasure.
With specially commissioned music, sadomasochism, (and cookies), this is zombie-Shakespeare-stand-up meets 80’s rock.
More details about the show and online podcasts on the Undead Bard at www.milkbottleproductions.co.uk
2nd – 13th October
19:30 pm (3.00pm Sunday and Saturday)