Othello performed as a rap, the histories as an American football game, all the comedies in one archetypal plot involving six sets of twins, four ever-accelerating Hamlets including one done backwards... This show is to Shakespeare what Stratford Johns is to Olympic gymnastics, and supplies an evening of broad grins but few real belly laughs. The trouble is that it's the company's sole raison d'ętre, they've been ętre-ing it for a long time, and it shows.
Consequently, the image of amiable, amateurish chaos is belied by super-precise timing and gags honed to razor-sharpness. There's little spontaneity on show; Adam Long (the nerdy one that keeps playing heroines in terrible wigs who vomit over the front row) acts freshness well, but it is an act, and one that eludes compadres Jess Borgeson (the bearded, rotund one) and Daniel Singer (the bald, fire-eating one). I always dislike picking on audience members, too – though reviewers are fair game (gleeful cries of "Critic!" as a spiral notebook is snatched and pored over). What was glorious Edinburgh Fringe fare pales when transplanted to the West End.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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