Musical Theatre

The Shakespeare Revue at Theatre Royal Bath

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Posted on 20th September 2016

The Shakespeare Revue

Theatre Royal Bath

19 September, 2016

You may think that Shakespeare's all Greek to you but this humorous revue will reveal just how much you didn't know you knew. 

It begins with Bernard Levin's prologue Quoting Shakespeare, and you will laugh in recognition of the sheer number of everyday phrases we owe to the Bard – such sayings as 'in a pickle', 'slept not one wink', 'laughing stock' and many more besides.

This lighthearted romp devised by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee has been playing for more than 20 years and is now back in Bath – it was first here in 1996 – in a fresh updated version in celebration of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary.

Based on the revue format of song, dance, monologue and sketch, the show features skits by such comedy icons as Victoria Wood, Alan Bennett, Maureen Lipman, Fry & Laurie and more, and music that ranges from Cole Porter to Dillie Keane (of Fascinating Aida fame).

Witty, clever and entertaining, the show bubbles with fun as the cast, accompanied by a pianist, romp through this confection of Shakespeare-lite. 

There's no need to be a scholar to appreciate the humour of such sketches as Monty Python's The Man Who Speaks in Anagrams  – “Be ot or bot ne ot, tath is the nestquoi” – or Wherefore Art Thou, Juliet in which, to Romeo's horror, Juliet's in a muddle and thinks it's the day she plays Lady Macbeth. “It's Tuesday,”  he hisses. The show even includes a naughty, bawdy music hall singalong.

The company of Lizzie Bea, Jordan Lee Davies, Alex Morgan, Alex Scott Fairley and Anna Stolli work as one, seamlessly delivering top class harmonies, delicious comedy turns and some nifty dance footwork.

The show is as much a revival, celebration even, of a genre that was popular in theatres until sometime in the 1950s when it was overtaken by the satirical revues of the 1960s, most famously in Beyond the Fringe. Then television took over with revues such as Ned Sherrin's TW3 and Monty Python's Flying Circus and now revues are largely out of favour.

So it's charmingly old-fashioned and a delightful evening's entertainment. And, as the devisers of the show say – if you don't like one particular song or sketch, stick around, because there will be another along in approximately three minutes.

The Shakespeare Revue is showing at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday 24 September. Call the box office on 01225 448844 or go online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk

Jackie Chappell

 

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