The Shakespeare Club

In the programme, The Shakespeare Club promises to be a somewhat cheesy, yet harmless play about finding oneself through Shakespeare’s characters. Instead, it’s a poorly-cooked mess of ideas.

The jokes fall flat and it’s painfully obvious that the actors are merely regurgitating their lines

The hour-long show – which two people wisely used as an opportunity to doze off – includes an underwhelming performance of the whole first act of The Tempest, with Ariel (Vianna Mabanag) as the only character who’s even mildly credible. This is followed by a dry factfile about Shakespeare which any audience could look up on Wikipedia. Next comes a poorly articulated rap battle of Shakespearean insults, concluded with what was effectively a transcription of the ending of The Breakfast Club.

The jokes fall flat and it’s painfully obvious that the actors are merely regurgitating their lines instead of truly connecting with their fellow actors in the moment. This resulted in a real lack of integrity in their performances and a sense of having rote-learnt their lines just before the show. Ferdinand especially stumbled on his lines. Why they reattributed the lyrics of Full Fathom Five to him instead of Ariel, nonsensical decision that it was, will forever be a mystery.

The Shakespeare Club has far too much air in between words, resulting in a painful awareness of metre that should be seamless and of the incredibly slow passage of time. The company seem too self-absorbed to withstand a hardy Fringe audience. They make far too many appeals to pathos, aiming to win their audience’s sympathy with a generic appreciation of theatre, one which “allows them to be themselves”. The effect is rather cloying and disproves the programme’s claim that we automatically “love hearing everyone else’s story.”

Clearly, making it to the Edinburgh Fringe is a big deal for the group, but it would have been more interesting if they had come up with something more original and coherent, rather than simply playing off the fact that they were attending, and using the clichéd concept of spending their whole show pretending they were deciding what they were going to perform for their Fringe show. The show was very underwhelming, and so an idea with plenty of potential was subsequently wasted. 

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The Blurb

A group of students try to decide what Shakespearean play to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As they fight for their favourite, friendships are made and challenged, and they learn the true meaning of teamwork.

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