Let England Shake

Let England Shake is a dark and funny performance full of good ideas and performed by a great all-female ensemble. However, the show needs some more thought to make the separate stories sit together as a coherent whole.

The performance of Puck is fantastic. He slides and prowls around the edge of our consciousness before roughly forcing himself into the moment onstage.

Seats Back Theatre Company’s show is a collection of short stories, containing historical, mythical and supernatural creatures transposed into the modern day and performed with satire. At the same time, it makes a clumsy attempt to illustrate some moral points about social media, lad culture and feminism. The concept for the show is solid, but unfortunately some of the stories are handled poorly, and the separate stories feel disconnected as there is little flow between them.

The stories making up this play are about the following: an actress suffering from online trolls; Boudicca defending her bloodline; Puck performing a questionable stand-up comedy set; a cursed phone that slowly traps its owner inside it; a collection of holiday reps that are called by the mythical Sirens.

The segment about the troll headquarters - where all the online trolls gather to produce the most visceral tweets - is hilarious, and makes you wish it was true, if only so you could walk in and arrest them all. For me, the highlight of the show is the excellent and aggressive monologue performed by Puck, in which he defends the use of rape jokes. It is sinisterly truthful, tearing at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, showing the darker side of Shakespeare’s play to the audience.

The performance of Puck is fantastic. He slides and prowls around the edge of our consciousness before roughly forcing himself into the moment onstage. Perhaps the actor could afford to be more physical, in order to more clearly indicate that Puck is other-worldly. The actors playing the holiday reps also give surreptitiously smart performances.

However, not all the stories are as successful. Boudicca’s story simply seems to be that she likes murdering some people. She also makes woman-out-of-time comments about what she sees on TV, which is fine for a few short laughs, but doesn’t add to the show. I feel that something more interesting could have been made about a warrior queen, rather than have her stabbing unpleasant boyfriends. 

I spent most of the cursed phone scene trying to work out which myth it was based on, because the performances and the story itself are not particularly engaging. There is a solitary attempt to connect the stories up, when Puck gives Ms Vienna the cursed phone. This moment left me lost and unsure how to reconcile the two stories into one linked section. The scene with the sirens is the best-acted scene of the play, but feels aimless.

The show creates a general feeling of disconnection. Each of the scenes manage to produce a few laughs, but apart from Puck’s scene on rape, none of the stories add anything new or interesting to the debates around feminism or social media. The supernatural, mythological or historical characters do not provide a fresh look or raise any new questions.

Reviews by M Johnson

Old Fire Station - Cafe

An Intervention

★★★
M6 Theatre Company

Little Gift

★★★
Assembly Roxy

Thor and Loki

★★★
Paradise in The Vault

Quines

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Grace

★★
Summerhall

Status

★★★

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 £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Let England Shake is an anthology play whose separate stories insert the historical, the mythical and the supernatural into the lives of modern women, holding a dark but comical mirror up to the issues they face in the 21st century.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Les Miserables

From £22.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets