Devised by: Christopher Luscombe &Malcolm McKee
Director: Malcolm McKee
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
Five gifted performers, a piano and 400 years of The Bard, make the foundations of The Shakespeare Revue, currently delivering its old-fashioned charms at the Theatre Royal this week.
Beginning its theatrical life as a fund-raiser for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1994, creators Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee have updated and expanded their original show to include material from such theatrical luminaries as Stephen Sondheim, Victoria Wood, Stiles and Drew and Cole Porter.
The five performers rattle through a veritable smorgasbord of Shakespearean delights from musical interludes, ditties, skits to sketches, replete with up-to-the-minute cultural and local references: Glenda Jackson’s King Lear, Nicola Sturgeon’s bid for independence and the trials and travails of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
In an evening of such variety there’s bound to be some variation in the success of the individual elements; classics such as Brush Up Your Shakespeare and Let’s Do It are undoubtedly well-received as are newer pieces from Stiles and Drew: Carrying a Torch and In Shakespeare’s Day and Maureen Lipman and Dennis King’s witty PC or Not PC is a crowd pleaser, but Adèle Anderson and Dilly Keane’s The English Lesson and Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s Shakespeare Masterclass outstay their welcome.
What makes this such an entertaining evening isn’t the joy of spotting the clever references but the sheer quality of the performers: Lizzie Bea, Clive Hayward, Nicola Keen, Alex Morgan and Malcolm McKee. Impeccably delivered choreography, clear as crystal diction and razor-sharp timing makes for an evening of rarely seen quality. This is a class act from start to end.
Shakespeare buffs will undoubtedly get the most out of the evening, but those who believe they have scant knowledge of the Bard will be pleasantly surprised at what they know – so pervasive is Shakespeare.
Fast-moving, irreverent and entertaining – this is an unexpected gem that will brighten up even the dullest winter’s evening.
Runs until Saturday 3 December 2016 | Image: Contributed