Blue Elephant Theatre
Reviewed – 10th November 2017
“the many children surrounding me who roared with laughter, and gasped and booed in all the right places”
I have had a mad fortnight ending with a revolting virus and two days in bed where I happily could have stayed. But if anyone could cheer me up, it would be The Bard himself so I ventured into South East London to a venue new to me, Camberwell’s Blue Elephant Theatre.
I arrived to a group of 11 year olds in school uniform propping up the bar with an array of soft drinks in front of them. The room quickly filled with an assortment of children and adults of all ages all with big smiles. Looking around, some families were squeezing in the show between school and ballet while others were having a birthday treat. I could spot the fellow reviewers by the look of confusion as they were swallowed by children en masse! I am used to being outnumbered (in a classroom) and just enjoyed the excited chatter as we waited to go in – it all made for a great atmosphere.
Aimed firmly at children, this production is billed as a fast and furious, funny introduction to Shakespeare and the kids heading into the small auditorium were obviously looking forward to it.
The whistle stop production took in three of the best loved plays (Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night) and wasn’t as hectic as other comic ensembles have created. If you didn’t already know the plays, it didn’t matter – the players were there to act out the explanation. Each was quick and concise and managed to focus on the pivotal best bits of each, telling the tale clearly, with humour and engagement.
With no props and a bare stage, the cast of three managed to play multiple parts without confusing those watching, or straying too far from the story. A mum next to me declared “I did Macbeth at school, I forgot most of it and only now do I get it!”
I loved the way they mixed in modern references to keep the children interested and demanded audience participation to hold their attention. This production could visit schools easily and take Shakespeare into other venues with minimal fuss and maximum entertainment.
This can only ever be a partial review unless I include the reactions of the target audience, the many children surrounding me who roared with laughter, and gasped and booed in all the right places. They joined in with gusto, with delight on their faces. Wide-eyed and at times silently concentrating, they were all quick to form a jostling queue at the end to tell the promotional camera what they liked best.
Shakespearience is a hilarious production, pitched just right for kids but with enough humour to keep parents entertained. A fantastic introduction to Shakespeare and some classic tales that every child should see.
Reviewed by Joanna Hinson
was at the Blue Elephant Theatre