The Shakespeare Revue

Those familiar with Shakespeare and fans of musicals will enjoy Emanuel Theatre Company’s fun romp that mashes the two genres together. The Shakespeare Revue, originally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is an irreverent cabaret-style nod to the bard.

A bit more polish and precision is needed in some places but the confident, professional cast will no doubt have this well in hand.

The young troupe perform well together and all are more than competent singers although there are a few standouts. A particular highlight was Carrying the Torch – the love song of a reformed Shakespeare hater turned slightly obsessive fan of Julius Caesar. Another crowd pleaser was In Shakespeare’s Day, which pondered how difficult theatre was before the invention of freezers, synthesisers, Tippex or Velcro. The suggestion that Merchant of Venice could be improved by setting it to the tune of music-hall classic O O Antonio was hysterically funny – who wouldn’t laugh at the idea of carrying the pound of flesh off in an ice-cream cart? (Even people who didn’t know the play or the music-hall song laughed).

Directors James Arnott and Nick House have dealt well with the challenge of fitting eight performers and two musicians on the stage and although I would have liked to see more dancing in some of the numbers, what is on offer is good.

Without mics, projection and vocal clarity was at times an issue for some cast members, especially in the big numbers when they were competing with the keyboard or snare drum.

A bit more polish and precision is needed in some places but the confident, professional cast will no doubt have this well in hand.

This riotous revue includes songs from Noël Coward, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim and is peppered with sketches and witticisms. Of course, you don’t need to know who Coward, Porter and Sondheim are to enjoy the show – although it helps if you have at least a passing acquaintance with Shakespeare.

Overall, this tongue-in-cheek tribute to Shakespeare’s work is a true crowd pleaser and is sure to fill seats for the rest of its run at the Fringe.  

Reviews by Emma Gibson

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

After a sell-out run in 2012 this young, vibrant company returns to Edinburgh to revive the lost art of the revue. First performed by the RSC, The Shakespeare Revue gathers the finest songs and sketches inspired by the life and works of William Shakespeare and blends them into a sparkling cabaret cocktail. With contributions from the cream of creative genius including Alan Bennett, Noël Coward, Stephen Sondheim, Fry and Laurie, Monty Python, Victoria Wood, Tom Lehrer and Cole Porter, this hilarious celebration in loving mockery of the Bard will enthral and entertain young and old alike.