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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Shakespeare for Breakfast

C Theatre

Genre: Classical and Shakespeare


 C Venues - C


Low Down

A Fringe institution now in its twentieth year. This years offering is a comic reimaging of Romeo and Juliet in the age of Twitter – will they get signal?


If any production can cope with being reviewed on the first day of the Fringe, it’s Shakespeare For Breakfast. The fast-paced, quick-witted and irreverent format has been essential viewing for the past two decades. This year sees Romeo and Juliet given the treatment with surprising, often elegant but definitely mixed results.

From fair Verona the action is transported to Little Venice and is played out on the mean streets of the Twitterverse. The great divide falls between the chavish Montagues and the uber-ra Capulets (no, they can’t come shopping on the King’s Road today).

Puritans will find reason good enough to enjoy the thoughtful and heartfelt adaptation of Shakespeare’s script. Both the charming Kirsty Marie Ayres (Juliet) and the versatile Adam Pendrich (Romeo) deliver the good stuff with passionate skill. Indeed the whole cast demonstrated enviable judgement when walking that fine line between ham and dram. The effect was to allow both the rom and the com space to shine.

The real villain of the piece was, regrettably, an uninspired set of props and costumes. Shakespeare for Breakfast regulars expect a higher level of cheesy prop-based comedy. With the odd exception, such as the goldfish bowl which nodded toward the first meeting of Danes and DiCaprio back in ’96, essentially the cast carried the script unaided. At times it looked like heavy going. Fuzzy costuming left the other characters struggling to emerge into big personas. The lighting and sound were adequate (the cast breezed comfortably through the early Fringe wobbles) but again there was little that added to the pace or which helped to develop the show’s themes, classical or contemporary.

This is a production which can only get stronger but even at this early stage it would be hard to predict that every possible comic drop will be wrung out. This is a strong cast who are by no means a let down on previous years but the script suffers from noticeable let ups – it’s a revolver where you might expect a gatling gun.

Shakespeare for Breakfast is frequently a hit and miss affair. With more thoughtful props and sharper costuming this cast might yet raise the batting average.


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