ChildrensDramaFamilyNorth WestReviewShakespeareShakespeare 400

Bardolph’s Box – Unity Theatre, Liverpool

Writer/Director: Nicola Pollard

Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin

There are several ways to introduce children to Shakespeare. Popping them on the edge of the arena, imitating the Bard’s original Groundlings, seems to do the trick.

Working with children can be perilous but with very little prompting, Bardolph manages to keep the show on track. Bardolph is a pal of the young Prince Hal who goes on to become Henry V. Bardolph’s Box is a mash of some Shakespeare’s best loved and lesser know characters bumping into each others’ plots as they cross the path of the hapless Bardolph seeking his advice and guidance.

Confusion over identical twins, witches, Cleopatra and the quarrelling Montagues and Capulets are all on offer. Some of it though may have been a little difficult to digest for those at the bottom of the 8 – 12 target age range. Although it all flows quite well, it could do with a little more zing in the pace. Certainly the colourful costumes and characters ensure that there is a chance for the youngsters to enjoy the fantasy fun of theatre.

All done with a cast of three: Stuart Crowther is Bardolph the anchorman while Anna Buckland and Harvey Robinson nipped in and out of a wide variety of costumes and characters. Crowther neatly carries out the task of sometimes being bemused but then quickly catching on to the needs of those badgering him.

Harvey Robinson obviously thoroughly enjoys playing Cleopatra and has the kind of excellent stage presence that might have reminded Shakespeare of a young Richard Burbage. Credit to Anna Buckland for delighting us with a wide-range of expressions for her quirky characters.

Up The Road Theatre has certainly come up with a novel, and fun, way to introduce children to the delights of Shakespeare in this, its first production. An amusing show, not only for the Groundlings, but also for their mums and dads.

Reviewed on March 1st, 2016 and touring.

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