Shakespeare for Breakfast

"Not one for the puritans" is a phrase often used to describe avant-garde Shakespeare productions. Fringe veterans Shakespeare for Breakfast provide a take on Shakespeare that’s for the puritans, the novices, the haters and everyone in between.

Thoroughly accessible, feel-fantastic fun

This year’s offering is The Taming of the Shoe, directed by Damian Sandys and created with the premise that the ensemble misread the original’s title, so, without the time to remould their show, are pressing ahead with the tale of an East End shoe salesman and his two daughters, the ditzy sequined Bianca and the bookish, standoffish Kate, the second of whom must marry before the first does. Cue a multiplicity of shoe puns, and the laddish, tattooed Pete Truchio arriving to win Kate’s hand for a sizeable fee from her father.

I had the pleasure of seeing this production at the Edinburgh Fringe in August, and it is now playing at the Canal Café Theatre in Little Venice. The transfer from a thrust stage in a large auditorium to a tiny, cabaret-style stage in a room seating perhaps a hundred audience members around tables is a significant one, particularly when the eponymous gimmick of free coffee and croissants has vanished with the Fringe morning slot – according to the script, the company ordered an industrial quantity of croissants that were accidentally sent to Edinburgh. Although there is less space for the ensemble to bounce about (and occasionally ride a scooter), the show’s signature blend of finely-tuned comic set pieces and deliberate low-tech scrappiness survives the transfer and shines exuberantly.

There are passages of brand new iambic pentameter, there are random objects thrown from offstage, there are up-to-the-minute gags (including Brexit jokes still relevant since August), and it manages to avoid making the story horribly sexist. The plot and character development may be thin on the ground, but it's all loveable nonetheless and the jokes come in thick and fast. The ensemble of Roseanna Connolly, Emily Jane Kerr, John Oakes and Chris Thomson are captivating from start to finish, with an easy, amiable delivery that manages to make even audience participation feel friendly and tasteful rather than terrifying.

Shakespeare for Breakfast’s take on The Taming of the Shrew is thoroughly accessible, feel-fantastic fun. I have no regrets about returning, and can confirm that no free caffeine is required to get you through it.

Reviews by C. M. Cromie

Canal Cafe Theatre

Shakespeare for Breakfast

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

I Am Orestes and I Am Electra Too

★★
Zoo Southside

The Fun Club Presents...

★★
Assembly Roxy

Chihuahua

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Seven Ways to Calm the F**k Down

★★★★
The Lion And Unicorn

NEON

★★★

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.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The Bardic Breakfasters are back! C's sensational Shakespearience returns to London and the Canal Café Theatre. Twenty-seven years of Bardic bardfoolery culminate in last Edinburgh's sell-out show, now specially adapted for the London stage – The Taming of the Shrew as you've never seen it before.

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