With a free croissant and tea in hand, Shakespeare for Breakfast almost had me sold before kick-off. What followed was a delightful morning romp through ‘Shakespeare Land’, a place littered with puns most foul and yet pleasing, as well as a menagerie of references covering every sonnet under the sun.
Some of the jokes were much more successful than others, but by and large even the more cringeworthy puns were greeted with wry enthusiasm by the enraptured audience
When a young woman dressed as a boy (naturally) washes up on a beach, she gets whisked into an adventure with a variety of famous Shakespeare figures “of both good and evil hue”. Siding with the light, she embarks on a quest to prevent the forces of darkness from, quite literally, eating Shakespeare for breakfast - preferably in a pie (Queen Tamara’s idea). The cast display their versatility, with four of the five actors playing the main figures on both sides of the conflict. All are perfectly defined – Ariel from The Tempest becomes a cackling Third Witch very effectively with a simple costume change and an added hunchback.
The overall standard of the production was high, regarding both cast and content quality. At times, the references made to being within a play were too heavy-handed. They came too frequently and wore thin, interrupting the flow of the story and the performance. But 10 a.m. is rarely a time for subtlety. Some of the jokes were much more successful than others, but by and large even the more cringeworthy puns were greeted with wry enthusiasm by the enraptured audience.
Shakespeare for Breakfast is a strong offering for the beginning of anyone’s day at the festival and, with a bit of polish and fine-tuning of some of the weaker moments in the script, could be superb.