Rhapsodes

Improvised comedy at its most virtuosic, Sean McCann and Adam Meggido (of Showstoppers! The Improvised Musical and School of Night fame) are two masters of their artform, with an awe-inspiring level of verbal and imaginative prowess and wit.

Absolutely incredible, from start to finish.

Rhapsodes, named after the Greek discipline of reciting poetry after finishing sporting events in order to be voted the most able and win a laurel crown, is a one-hour show in which these two incredibly talented men improvise an entire Shakespeare play. This is based on the audience’s choice of genre (comedy, tragedy, history or late play), and on the stories and words provided. In our case, the play of the day was a late play, or ‘Romance’, about a The Wizard of West Bow and his wife, burnt at the stake for bestiality, as prompted by the audience. They do so in perfect iambic pentameter, adding flourishes of rhyming couplets where appropriate. Just to show off, they also improvise poems based on audience stories, using rhyme schemes derived from poets Edgar Allan Poe and Robert W. Service. They perform in the style of Harold Pinter, and act in the four Elizabethan humours, impersonating a range of actors: Mark Rylance, Roger Moore... They even improvise in Middle English in the style of Geoffrey Chaucer. To complete the spectacle, they improvise an entire Shakespearean sonnet. They do all of this with an ease and humour worthy of the Greek gods themselves. Rhapsodes is the closest thing you will ever witness to verbal Olympic games.

Their skill is truly mind-blowing, and I might even go so far as to argue that these must be two of the most skillful performers at this year’s Fringe; quite a feat considering it is the biggest arts festival in the world. Both of them are supportive of each other, yet there is a sense of quiet competition that makes the entire performance captivating; the audience is on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen next. Sean McCann and Adam Meggido are true artists, using their astounding wit and talent by creating humour out of nothing to entertain an audience in a way I have never seen before. Absolutely incredible, from start to finish.

Reviews by Fiona Russell

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Shakespeare made up on the spot! From the creators of Olivier Award-winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, this is improv as you've never seen it before. Honouring ancient Athenian traditions, two Rhapsodes compete to create a fully-authentic Shakespearean masterpiece incorporating rap, poetry-slams and any writer from the last 3,000 years, from Homer to Pinter, from Poe to Dr Seuss. Adam Meggido and Sean McCann have improvised at the National Theatre, Royal Court, Shakespeare's Globe and all over the world. 'This might just be my favourite thing on the entire planet' ***** (ThreeWeeks). 'Intelligent, uproarious, laugh-a-minute fare' **** (Daily Telegraph).