Despite Kindles and Netflix and Twitter and Podcasts, our collective love of books will never die; at least, if the audience of Classic! at Pleasance Courtyard is anything to go by.
Six beautifully daft clowning performances which deliver as much as they promise
The conceit is a recognisable enough one: whisk through a weighty tome of work in record-breaking time, chuck in a few songs, audience interaction, an apparently shambolic team ethic, a couple of disagreements, daft wigs and heaving bosoms and bish:bash:bosh you’ve got a script. It’s part of the long-tradition of ‘let’s put on a play’ humour we can trace back to Shakespeare, and though an over-used trope, one that stands revisiting when executed with as much heart and style as in this production.
We are told that the six plucky performers in front of us are aiming to beat the world record for telling some of the greatest works of literature in an hour. But the assumptive purpose is, of course, merely a vehicle to drive six beautifully daft clowning performances which deliver as much as they promise. In any case, we’re not there for any sort of literary edification, but to have a self-satisfied chortle at how jolly clever we are to understand the compressions and retellings of these literary classics.
We are treated to Moby Dick as a sea shanty; Black Beauty as a pantomime; Lady Chatterley as a be-chest-wigged 1970s porno; Oliver Twist as film noir; Pride & Prejudice as silent movie… you get the drift. And thus despite the deliberate semblance of chaos and homespun production values, there is in fact a literary intersectionality at the core of the text. In fact, drama students could have a field day with the witty deployment of semiotics in this production: from foggy Victorian streets to pink heart-shaped sunglasses, mob caps to ringlets, and everything in between.
Directed by Joyce Branagh, this is a crazy hour of wholesome (ish), bookish (ish) humour that may well have you asking Sir if you can please have some more.