Shakespeare – and not just any Shakespeare, but King John – with a food fight. Yeah, this is not your everyday performance …
The blurb says ‘Shakespeare’s rarely performed tale of a nation in turmoil vibrates with modern resonance in this vivid new production.’ Indeed!
It’s a production which is almost impossible to describe anyway, all the more so without spoilers, so I’ll be brief.
It’s the real deal. There’s no messing with the text, and the story is faithfully told. But it has a delightful whimsy to it, several laugh aloud moments and even some audience participation. Oh, and the food fight isn’t the most impressive physical aspect. There’s dance and … other stuff.
Michael Abubakar’s ‘The Bastard’ is the stand-out performance without a doubt, but Rosie Sheery’s King John and Bridgitta Roy’s Queen Elinor play beautifully off each other. (Full disclosure: Bridgitta is a friend, and I have a little inside knowledge of how the two came to develop such a believable relationship, but the latter came after the performance rather than before.)
The performance was such that it made me wonder why the play isn’t selected more often. It’s a hugely gripping story, even without the modern twists.
The casting cleverly mixes-and-matches actors from The Whip such that minor characters in one become major characters in the other, so the cast can realistically cope with performing both in one day. By the end of it, we’d seen six hours (including intervals) of theatre in one day, but it in no way felt like it.
If you can’t get up to Stratford-upon-Avon to see it in person, look out for the cinema performance on 29th April.