ComedyDramaNorth WestPhysical TheatreReviewShakespeareShakespeare 400

The Complete Deaths – Liverpool Playhouse

Writer: William Shakespeare
Adaptor and Director: Tim Crouch
Reviewer: Matt Forrest

When the body of Richard III was unexpectedly found beneath a car park in Leicester back in 2013, it shocked the world;however, more shocking would be that, according to William Shakespeare, he died to the accompaniment of some hardcore techno music while looking for a horse wearing a gas mask, at least that’s comedy troop Spymonkey’s take on things.

To celebrate the 400 anniversary of Shakespeare’s demise, the Spymonkey team have assembled a show to celebrate every on stage death that occurs in ‘The Bards’ plays: these include the blood bath that is Henry VI right through to the death of Pyramus in the ‘comedy’ A Midsummer Nights Dream. There are 75 on stage deaths throughout Shakespeare’s plays and to help keep track we have Lady Death seated to the left of the stage armed with a bingo machine to help us keep score as to who has shuffled off this mortal coil, and all set in what can only be described as a serial killer’s lair: think TV series Dexter and you get the idea.

The Complete Deathsis a great deal of fun and hugely silly: there is a touch of Riverdance to see off the characters in Macbeth, a puppet show for Cinna the Poet’s fiery demise in Julius Caesar, and a spot of pie-making for the gore fest that is Titus Andronicus.Highlights includethe death of Cleopatra, which includes dancing wasps, and the hilarious Romeo and Juliet tomb scene accompanied by a giant cod-piece.

All four monkeysbring something different to the show: In Toby Park we have the troop’s leader – a pompous man reminding us that “this isn’t panto” sending himself up beautifully. Stephen Kreiss’ passion for slapstick shines though. Petra Massey is on great form trying to shoehorn the death of Ophelia in at any given moment. She is perfect for comedy and her facial expressions are a treat. However, it’s Aitor Basaurl who steals the show playing the clown to perfection: he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Not everyone is impressed by Basal though… including several visits from Shakespeare himself – who is less than impressed by Basaurl’s contribution his plays.

This is physical comedy at its finest: clever, witty absurd, and just downright funny. The show’s finale comes in the form of the massacre at the end of Hamlet –which is worth the price of admission alone. The only certainty in life is that we all end up six feet under. And if you manage to catch The Complete Deaths, you won’t be disappointed

Runs until 21May 2016 | Image: Spymonkey

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