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Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Shakespeare Bingo: Titus

Bombini Theatre Company

Genre: Comedy, Drama




Low Down

This is Shakespeare at its most irreverent. You take out (most of) the Shakespeare, stick in some teenage angst and then play it for kicks. On top of that you get a bingo card and whoever shouts house gets a prize well worth winning – trust me – I was gutted! Played by teenagers with a handle on the play this will get you laughing along.


This is the third bingo extravaganza the company have employed at the fringe in 3 years and if the formula works – why change it. The idea is to take a Shakespearean text, hand it to the kids, get them to deconstruct and use all that clever teenage reference stuff they do – kinda like the guy with the beard in the 17th century once did – rehearse it and perform it as a parody. It worked with better know pieces, the risk was taking one of the Bard’s lesser performed, less well known and certainly hardest to penetrate plays and get into the core of it. That was the flaw.

The performances were high octane and worked well when we were in teen speak and the interplay between each was a joy but when we got Shakey it was … well … shakey. Delivered at speed and with volume they went from parody to just plain confusing.

The staging was very good and I could pardon the occasional masking as the set pieces – particularly the death scenes a la health and safety 2001 (c) were inspired. Production values for a young company can be quite tricky as they struggle with reference points – can mainly be films or TV shows which have different values to theatre but this lot got it. The finale was little short of inspired and special mention to Megan who motors it through out and then barnstorms right at the end with that torch song! Never saw that coming…

As a piece of interplay in a course this was well worth the effort and a gallant try but sin my soul for saying it but Shakespeare’s text was the problem here. Another play would have worked much better and presumably already had done. Having said that I will spend £6 elsewhere and come away less happy than if I was spending it with Bombini.

I truly thought this was an exercise well worthy of performance but it just didn’t have the subject matter in the play – Titus – that fitted with such a breeze of a show. I can understand why the style was brought back but wish I had seen the others. The audience loved it but the majority of the appreciation came from the interplay between the actors rather than Shakespeare’s text. I am still not quite sure of what happens in Titus and anyone looking for a clear explanation… there isn’t really one in Titus anyway but this isn’t the starting point.

It was huge fun though and if this bunch return they will be near the top of my list for a return visit. Due to the issues with the connections between the original text and its interplay with the structure as well as the issues with some masking and not truly being at one with the theatre we have a 3 star rating but it would have gained more had we had better source material. I can’t believe I just wrote that…


Show Website

 Bombini Theatre Company