I have always been of the opinion that Shakespeare cannot be read but must be performed. The only way to appreciate the full potential is to see it live and, on this point, Fine Chisel deliver. The play is a combination of extracts taken from various works of Shakespeare and loosely centered around a plot. This is then combined with folk music and placed in the semi-modern yet still timeless setting of a pub. The set is immediately so engrossing, audience members had to be reminded the bar was not real and was, in fact, part of the set as previous audience members seem to have been overly convinced.
This adaptation allowed traditional Shakespearean dialogue to be put into a modern and perhaps more relatable context without sacrificing its original meaning or effect. The music did not feel contrived or out of place. The audience interaction was able to straddle that fine line between engaging and irritating to create an incredibly intimate atmosphere. Audience participation is at points highly encouraged, yet was appreciated to an almost alarming extent. After all it can’t hurt to treat your audience to a round of beer.
The cast are all incredibly talented with stand out performances from both Falstaff and Prince Henry. The music would be completely engrossing in and of itself, with its well-timed usage and stunning harmonies throughout. The combination of skillful acting and witty wordplay allowed the cast to bring out the humor in Shakespeare without sacrificing dramatic impact.
This is an effective amalgamation of some of Shakespeare’s work, but the credit must go entirely to Fine Chisel. They are able to create a fresh take on some of the most performed scenes in theatre. The show does what every modern production of Shakespeare should attempt to do: it makes it relevant and interesting by emphasising the relatability inherent in the original pieces for a modern audience. Midnight at the Boar’s Head is very clever, at times downright bizarre and overall thoroughly enjoyable.