Hurly Burly’s Death by Shakespeare is a stylised ode to Shakespeare, that lifts and showcases his best-known characters in a tumultuous yet entrancing way. It’s not always about what is being said, but how his speeches are performed and the creative flourishes that are included in order to give a tribal, spiritual air to the proceedings.
An interesting artistic interpretation of the Bard’s work
The play centers on William Shakespeare summoning the unsettled spirits of his plays like Romeo, Tybalt, Lady Macbeth and Ophelia to give them the opportunity to have their final words.
This show’s strength is in the ability of the creative team and cast to tightly control the aesthetic and mood during each sequence, and how quickly they shift from one character to another, which is occasionally incredibly drastic. The lighting design and movement drastically changes the atmosphere for each character and moment. The softness of Ophelia’s speech becomes even more so considering its direct contrast to that of Tybalt’s which is incredibly primal and violent. The movement in Death by Shakespeare can be incredibly fast paced, yet enchanting in its dexterity, almost becoming violent at times. And because there’s quite an ethereal nature to what happens onstage; between the movement and delivery of the lines, it is like watching figures in the smoke or flames. The entire production is quite otherworldly in this sense. The range of characters that this show covers is quite narrow, taking characters from Shakespeare’s best known plays, which although visually interesting, means that a rather broad interpretation of the word ‘murdered’ is taken. The decision to include Pyramus and Thisbe is particularly strange as this adds comic relief in the middle of a dramatic show which seems very out of place.
This avant garde, cliff notes Death by Shakespeare is definitely an interesting artistic interpretation of the Bard’s work.