The water at Rovinj sea-port on the west coast of Croatia, historical Illyria, is still, clear and green-blue. Artisan jewellery is draped on the stucco walls and last night's wine bottles have been tidily placed on the window-sill for collection. Olivia has locked herself away; Orsino is dozily sighing in his lounge; and this static world is about to be violently interrupted by a catastrophic wreck.
Q: So, this Much Ado hasn't been getting very good reviews, gosh! How drunk were you for this one?
A: NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH.
The conceit of Shitfaced Shakespeare is simple: it's a production of Shakespeare and one of the cast members is shitfaced. This year they did "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Edinburgh Fringe, and the night I saw it the shitfaced Shakespearean was Beth-Louise Priestley as Hero. I discovered that a drunk Hero staggering her way through Messina is the best thing that has ever happened to this play.
Much Ado, more than any other Shakespeare except maybe Hamlet and Twelfth Night, is about sex and death. (The three were written within three years of each other, 1598-1601, with Othello following close behind around 1602; clearly it was on his mind.) Compagnie Hypermobile's Beatrice and Benedick obviously get on well with each other. Their love isn't so much a revelation of feeling as an agreement to risk the literally deadly dangerous world of courtship and marriage together.
It’s good that Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s shortest play. It’s a very silly plot and it doesn’t overstay itself. I left the Globe thinking I had just seen a jolly, rapid-fire production of an insubstantial play, which was true, but the more I think about Roy-e-Sabs’ production the more the subtext and the subversiveness settles into me.
All photos (c) Simon Annand
Before I get into the performance itself, a few things about the protests around the production. The estimable Dr. Peter Kirwan, Shakespeare-in-performance blogger extraordinaire, has an excellent pair of posts around first, the protests (and the atmosphere they created), and second, the art. Around the former topic, my brief thoughts are:
1. The occupation of Palestine is inhumane and atrocious.