Returning for its 26th year, with free coffee and croissants, Shakespeare at Breakfast at C Venues Chambers Street brings a mixture of Shakespearian drama and contemporary humour with a twist to the story of the Local Horticultural Society as ambition, plots of murder, divine intervention and divine justice all take their toll.
The cast are to say the least enthusiastic and there are some humorous contemporary jokes in this script but, for me, there are only so many horticultural jokes and double entendres about marrows that you can deal with in the morning (despite the free coffee or orange juice and croissants) and many of them are probably as old as the Shakespearean text that everything loosely hangs together on. For some reason I never understand, people so often also seem to think that adding a rap number to a show somehow makes the subject matter contemporary too…always a mistake unless you can do it really well, and this was not one of those occasions.
There are, amidst the endless rhyming couplets, some genuine bits of sharp adaptive dialogue and contemporary observations on our modern society, but I was left with the impression that this show did not really have any clear direction as to whether it was Shakespearean or contemporary humour as the two seemed not to fit to well together at times. The original words from the master that are here clearly show how one could breathe life and magic into words while others do not have the same gifts.
To be fair to the show though, most of the early morning audience did find some humour in our tale of witches, prophesies, murder most foul and garden slug infestations...perhaps the sister show, Dickens at Lunchtime would have been a better one for me to start my 2017 Fringe reviews with as my “humour appreciation” might have woken up a bit by then.
Review by Tom King