Helen Davidson on Shakespeares.


Only three things in tile, claims Kevin Carr, director at the newty-lounded Abbotslord Shakespeare Festival, can be counted as truly inevitable-death. taxes and Shakespeare on the Fringe. This summer Shakespeare groupies are again spoilt lorcholce, asa plethora ot Shakespeare oriented events, some outrageously alternative, others more comlortingty traditional lor the purists, ligure in both the ollicial Festival and the Fringe programmes.

The Abbotslord Shakespeare Festival both picks up on and expandsthe wealth ol WS on the Fringe. A new Iixture on the Fringe, sited in Abbotslord Lodge on Momingside Road, with productions, readings, lectures and workshops billed lrom noon to midnight, it is playing host to many ol the wackier shows.

Here “Titus Andronicus“ becomes, atthe hands ola group called “Count at Three“, a musical horror pantomime entitled “When in Rome“, whilst Madness in Method, intheir production at “Two Gentlemen olVerona“, replace the said gentlemen with women - evidentlythe leminist voice is not allowed to go unheard. There is even, in this melting pot ol iambic pentameters and blank verse, a Shakespeare sports workshop andthe chance to team hand-to-hand stage lighting. Nothing is, but what has not been condensed, translorrned, or improvised upon.

Carr is conlident that the lestival will be ‘a hit, every palpable hit’, admitting that it is a chance lorhimto indulge to the lull his passion lorthe Bard. When questioned as to whether it isn't perhaps a little sacrilegious to turn a piece ol “Iiterature' like ‘Macbelh' into “Macslick the Private Dick', a show in which Carr himsell stars, he delends himsell. claiming the show demonstrates Shakespeare‘s versatility and reveals what certain elements in the text, taken to an extreme, can resultin.

Carr leels that at its best alternative Shakespeare exploits to the lull the gaps tell by the “heavier' productions.

Abbotslord Lodge (venue 84) 18 Momingside Road, 4471122.


Superstition surrounding the ‘Scottish Play“ has always been rile in theatrical circles, however this year companies seem to have quashed their misgivings, as no lessthan tour separate productions at MACBET H take tothe boards. Briel but bloody, this particular chapter in Scottish history apparently lends itsell to all manner at theatrical styles.

Festival Director Frank Dunlop has scored a diplomatic coup in luring the Shanghai Kuniu Theatre lrom the People's Republic at China to Leilh Theatre to stagger the populace with a show which the programme conlidently asserts is, ‘beyond Western imagination“.

Ilthe idea ol a mental blow-out worries you, a trip to St Bemard“s Church Hall will reveal how larKeete University Theatre Company’s production measures up to the status at “smash-hit“ that the group have accorded it.

In case you were beginning to get some sort ol mistaken idea that all publicity people are liars, there's always the Foundation Theatre. who straighttorwardty indulge their interest in psychotic violence, coupling “Macbeth' with a piece called “Terrorist' about a kidnapped American millionairess turned killer.

The Berlin Play actors demand stamina lrom audience and company alike. This eight-man ensemble will perlonn the play lrom midnight through till three am in St Paul's and St George‘s Church Hall. Any neighbouring ghosts wiII presumably welcome the company.

West at Cambridge Theatre Group meanwhile take an oblique approach, with ‘The Marowitz

Macbeth'— Marowitz's collage version at the



original play.

As the lull might olthe Festival descends upon a raid-ridden Edinburgh, suddenly gaudy and exuberant, well might one think at Ross“s comment— ‘Atas poor country, almost alraid to know itsell!“

o The Kuniu Macbeth, Shanghai Kuniu Theatre. Leilh Theatre. 25-31 Aug 7.30pm. £6 (£2.50 on day at pert) [ElF] o Macbeth. Keele University. St Bernard's Church Hall (venue 10) 332 0122.10-22 Aug 4pm. £2.50 (£1.50) [Fr] 0 Macbeth, Foundation Touring Company. Edinburgh College at Art (venue 73) 10-22 Aug. Midnight (ends 3am) £4 (£3) [Fr] 0 Marowitz Macbeth. West 01 Cambridge TG, Riddles Court (venue 11), 225 8961. 10—22 Aug. 3.45pm. £2 (£1.50). [Fr]


These days no sell-respecting company can attempt a production at Shakespeare without jettisoning helty chunks ol the text. The Cambridge Experimental Theatre point out that the much reduced running time ol one and three-quarter hourslor KING LEAR owes more to judicial academic discussion than to considerations ol theatrical lashionability.

Recently returned lrom a successlul ten-week tour ol Europe, the company was originally lonned by a group olgraduates in protest againstthe productions which manager Bridget Raban attacks as, ‘stully, expensive and inteIlectuaIlythin.“ By getting together belore

rehearsals to decide on an aggressive re-ordering ol the script, cast and director aim to make each work as relevant as possible to contemporary audiences. Music, mime and puppetry are incorporated en route to give the perlorrnance dillerent dimensions.

The success enjoyed by

the company in France and Germany, where not all members olthe audience could perlectly understand the English, encouraged actors to maximize the lull physical potential oi the text. A ruthless re-atignment ol scenes and speeches, together with inlonnaI discussion held with audiences alter shows, is gradually, argues Raban, giving luller credence to Shakespeare‘s voice in 1987.

0 King Lear. Cambridge Experimental Theatre, Theatre ACT (venue 101) 5571785. 9430 Aug 1.50pm £3 (£2). [Fr]


‘Shakespeare phobia“ is a malady which can alllict many actors, used to regarding the plays as a specilicatly academic preserve. Ian Brown, director ol TAG Theatre Company's OTHELLO, and Brian Bovell, who plays the title role. both admitto having, altimes, succumbed to the condition. To Bovetl, a Londoner on his lirst visitto Scotland, Shakespeare was lor many years, ‘a mountain which I didn't really wantto climb'. Tackling a tragedy like “OtheIIo’ has proved an emotionally exhausting experience, and the cast have lound the play more demanding than the company's previous productions ol ‘Romeo and Juliet' and ‘As You Like lt'.

Determined to make the show as disciplined and taut as possible, Brown has begun the play in Cyprus. alterthe lashion ol Guiseppe Verdi, using only allusions to earlier events in Venice. The company is not unlamiliarwith the problems at adaptation- theirvenue lor ‘As You Like lt' last year was the Assembly Rooms, where they had a slot at exactly two hours lora playwhich unlortunately lasted considerably longer.

This production, done in modern dress, aims to bring outthe domesticity olthe drama, and designer Stewart Laing has spurned the grandiose scenery and plastic palm leaves which have plagued larger-scale productions. Instead the set is in a shell-shocked American embassy in Vietnam.

The cast is comparatively young to take on such a complex play, Bovell himsell, at 27, leels he could well return to the role later in tile, able to draw on his earlier experience. For him, at present, the lundamental appeal at the play is its humanity. lngenuously prolessing his admiration lor the Bard, he hopes the show will spread the good word to others. impressing on audiences “this genius, this master, but without getting too heavy.“ The ultimate prool ol the pIay's brilliance, Bovett points out, lies inthe lactthat when the playis linlshed and the actors have gone home “you can meet people just like these characters in the pub, inthe street- right now.“

0 Othello, TAG Theatre Co, Lyceum Studio, Cambridge Street (venue 35), 229 9699.14-29 Aug. 2.30pm. £3.50 (£2).


e TROILUS AND CRESSIDA Shakespeare's cruel tragedy set in the Trojan wars, perlormed bythe Berliner Ensemble (the company lounded by Brecht). The great Ekkehart Schalt plays Thersites. Troilus and Cressida, Beliner Ensemble, King's Theatre.17—19 Aug. 7.30pm. £3—£8. [ElF].

o HAMLET in a radical interpretation by the Moscow Studio Theatre 01 the South West in Russian. (See Russian Page). Assembly Rooms, (venue 3), 226 2427/8. 16—22 Aug. 11.45am. £4.50 (£4). [Fr].

0 THE APOCRYPHAL PLAYS: readings olptays sometimes attributed to Will. A.S.F. Players, Abbotslord Lodge (venue 84),4471122. 10.17.24 Aug. 12noon. £2.50 (£2)

0 COMPLETE WORKS. All in one hour! Reduced Shakespeare Co., Celtic Lodge (venue 6) 225 7097. 10—29 Aug. 10.10am. £3 (£2.50)

0 GEMINI. Amusical adaptation at “A Midsummer Night's Oream' by Bankhead Youth Theatre. James Gitlespie“s High School. (venue 93). 24-29 Aug. 7.30pm. £2 (£1)

0 EXIT BURBAGE. The tile and times at OickBurbage and mate Bitl. Peter Whitbread. Abbotslord Lodge (venue 84). 447 1122.21 & 22Aug.9pm. £2.50 (£2).

0 HAMLET lMPROVtSED/IMPRO LEAR. lmpro Etcetera. Abbotslord Lodge (venue 84) 4471122. 110-13. 17-20, 24-27 Aug 9pm; 14, 15, 21. 22, 28, 29 Aug 10pm. £2.50 (£2)

0 THE HISTORIES. Drasticatly reduced. Marginal Bard, Abbotslord

Lodge (venue 84). 9, 14-16, 21-23, 28, 29Aug. 3pm. £2.50 (£2)



lor Theatre Research,

Abbotslord Lodge. (venue


10pm. £2.50 (£2)

0 MACSLICK. Detective

version. Marginal Bard,

Abbotslord.(venue 84). 447

1122. 14, 15, 21-23, 28, 29

Aug. 8pm. £2.50 (£2).

0 MACPUNCH. Masks,

music and murder. Andrew

Conie, Abbotslord. (venue

84)4471122. 9 & 23Aug

5pm. £2.50 (£2)

0 ONE MAN SHOW. All the great speeches and characters. Andrew Bush, Abbotslord (see above). 11-15Aug.1pm.£2.50(£2) o PUPPET SHAKESPEARIANCES. W. S. Puppet Co, Abbotslord (see above). 10-29 Aug. 12noon. £2.50 (£2)

0 PHIL AND BILL. Philip Henslowe, rival olW.S. Scott Richards, Abbotslord (see above). 14—20 Aug. 5.30pm. £2.50 (£2)

0 ROMEO AND JULIET- THE CABARET. Clocktower Company. Pleasance (venue 33). 556 6550. 16—22 Aug, 12.15am;

23—30 Aug, 9.30pm. £3 (£2).


BREAKFAST. Start the day with “Tony and Cteo' atSt Columba’s By the Castle, (venue 4). 2201410. 10-29 Aug. 10.15am. £1.50(lnc|. continental breaklast).

o SHAKESPEARIAN SERENADE. Recital ol Shakespeare's songs. Abbotslord (see above). 9-23 Aug. 12noon. £2.50 (£2)

0 SHAKESPEARE SPORTS WORKSHOP. What?! Theatre Sports London, Abbotslord (see above). 9., 16, 23 Aug. 12noon.

o SHAKESPEARES WOMEN. Meriet Brook provides a guide. Gilded Balloon Theatre (venue 38). 226 2151. 7—22 Aug. 5.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50). Also one night at Abbotslord (see above). 9 Aug. 10pm. 0 STAGE COMBAT


Shakespearian swordplay.

Tony Farrat, Abbotslord

(see above). 10, 17, 24Aug

2pm (beginners); 4pm

(advanced). £2.50 (£2)


Shakespeare's interest in

harmony deciphered by

Harmony Productions.

Abbotslord (see above).

18—23 Aug. 1pm; 24—27 Aug

3pm. £2.50 (£2)


Hamlet in Thatcher's

Britain. EsherYouth

Theatre, Y.W.C.A. (venue

8). 9-15Aug. 10.20pm.



Andronicus translonned by Count at Three, Abbotslord. (see above). 16 Aug. 10pm.

The List 7 20 August 25