Charlie Dupré Presents... The Stories of Shakey P

Spoken word and rap artist Charlie Dupre comes on stage to the strains of cello and violin, an accompaniment that is perhaps a little at odds with his casual hip-hop style and delivery and which at times distracts from the words rather than adds to their meaning. Dupre sets out to convince us that Shakespeare was a rapper - hardly the most original of propositions but one that still has plenty of mileage in the entertainment-stakes, particularly when it’s done to such a high level as this.

Dupre is a very watchable and likeable performer: clear-voiced, articulate, striking the right balance between exposition and delivering the material and with an energetic and charismatic style.

Before embarking on a series of rap retellings of classic Shakespeare plays, Dupre sets the scene for us. In ‘Shakey P’ the schoolboy Bard conducts a rap battle with his playground rival, Kit Marlowe. Vying to outdo his nemesis, Shakey reads all he can and then begins to write, before successfully destroying Marlowe: ‘I know this might well anger thee but mate, your tether’s tied/’Cos the G-spot of humanity you’ll blatantly never find’. Dupre then points out that Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter rhythm is rap-like. There are other similar, perhaps more enlightening moments, as when Dupre suggests that the Shakespearean tragic hero appears in lots of hip-hop music. This pre-empts ‘Othello’ in the style of Eminem’s ‘Stan’. Before this the tragic hero Richard III is imagined in therapy, a format that cleverly allows us inside the plotting - ‘Operation King phase two point one’ - and motivations of the king. That Dupre manages to condense all of the complicated plot machinations while also creating a strong sense of character is really impressive and not tripping over any of the words that are fired from his mouth. At times, one is reminded of a petulant David Platt of ‘Coronation Street’; and the format is also reminiscent of the excellent ‘Psychobitches’, a sketch show starring Rebecca Front as therapist to various historical figures. Nevertheless, it works very well.

Other raps include ‘Faustus’, ‘Hamlet’, and my favourite, ‘Macbeth’, which has Dupre retelling the story from the witches’ point of view. This is where Dupre really lets rip as he creates unique personalities for each witch: a flirty, tall Scot who sounds a lot like Gary Tank Commander; a short, fat hag; and a cross-eyed crone. Flitting between each character, he tells the tale with consummate skill. There are some lovely, surprising rhymes and images here too: ‘Duff had gone a bit skewiff when he was still inside her/This meant he couldn’t make his exit via her vagina’.

There are a couple of bum notes though. An interactive game relies on the audience to call out Shakespearean words, a participant writes these up on the board at the back of the stage, and Dupre improvises a rap around them. The audience is a little unresponsive but Dupre’s ignorance of ‘distaff’ is surprising. That said, the rap itself is pretty well done, and he recovers his energy for the rest of the show quickly. I would have liked a bit more variety in the plays - it would be interesting to see how Dupre approaches a comedy, for instance. But Dupre is a very watchable and likeable performer: clear-voiced, articulate, striking the right balance between exposition and delivering the material and with an energetic and charismatic style. If this show reaches out to those previously intimidated by the big Bard himself - all the better.

Reviews by Ella Moran-Jones

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

The Mercenary Fiddler AKA Elsa Jean McTaggart

★★★
The Jazz Bar

Nick Harper

★★★★
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's

Mairearad and Anna

★★★★★
The Jazz Bar

Newt North

★★★★
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's

John Renbourn and Wizz Jones

★★★
The Jazz Bar

Americana Road Trip

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Charlie fuses classical playwriting and hip-hop in an electrifying lyrical brew, by reimagining the Bard as a playground battle rapper. Featuring Oliver Willems and Oktawia Petronella on strings.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets