Saturday, 14 May 2016

Gale warnings at Home

There are lots of interesting (and also free) things going on at Home (formerly The Corner House) next weekend to celebrate their first birthday, but Monkey and I went today to see a production of Twelfth Night by Filter Theatre. A riotous gig is how the website describes it and it was certainly most loud, hilarious and unconventional Shakespeare. The audience were a little slow on the uptake of the players requests for participation, but once we got into the swing of it the party really took off. A bare stage that looked more like a rehearsal space containing only musical instruments lets you know right off they are not going for a conventional setting, and then we had some dialogue over a mobile phone and the arrival of Viola is accompanied by the BBC shipping forecast, interrupted by further dialogue over the radio. Sir Toby seemed a little confused as to which play he was meant to be in, spouting lines from Macbeth, Hamlet and Henry V, at one point sporting a donkey head hat, and wandering down the aisle saying 'a plague on these McVitie's Jaffa Cakes'. There was pizza and tequila shots and a conga line on the stage, followed by a cascade of small sponge balls. The physical comedy was so well rehearsed and put together and it came across as very spontaneous, and never interfered with the intrinsic humour of the tale. We were a little confused because several players were playing more than one part and it was not entirely obvious (to me anyway, Monkey was more familiar with the cues), but for people familiar with the plot (which I was not) I'm sure it was fine. Shakespeare plays are very self-consciously 'plays', often talking directly to the audience and telling you that they are telling a story. Just the other day I reread my review of Hard Times from five years ago and the immersive nature of that performance contrasted very sharply with this play, that continually reminded you that you were watching performance. They are ending their tour this week at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.

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