The Swan, 23 Bath Street, Dunedin

17/03/2022 - 27/03/2022

Dunedin Fringe 2022

Production Details

Developed by Dan Eady
Sound by Paul Fox

Legit Shakespeare but it’s a bit weird. Our onesie game is strong. Wear yours. Motorbikes and cigars will not be admitted onto the premises.

Prospero, Caliban, Shylock, Timon, Richard III, Hotspur, Oberon, Vanilla Ice, et al. The hits and memories of a dog-eared career. Old characters revisited, refashioned, reshaped and reworn. A fresh effort based on timeless works.

Developed by a blow-in to Dunedin from Australia via HK, Dan Eady.
Experimental jazz soundscapes minus the jazz by aural maestro Paul Fox.

Find us on IG @sh.onesie

The Swan, 23 Bath Street, Dunedin 9016
Thur 17 – Sun 27 March 2022
Twice a night:
6.30pm | 8pm
$10.00 – $15.00
*Fees may apply

Theatre ,

50 mins

A comfortably cosy evening

Review by Terry MacTavish 19th Mar 2022

Shakespeare in a Onesie – that’s a sort of a punsie, because it is a one-man show, and the one man, Dan Eady, is costumed in a succession of whimsical onesie pyjamas. Cute. Moreover, it is performed in Dunedin’s charming Swan café, a cutely appropriate venue for this gentle paddle with the Swan of the Avon, Will Shakespeare himself. 

The onesies lend a disarmingly nursery feel to proceedings, reassuring any punters who fear the show might be too highbrow. We are welcomed in by Eady, who congratulates me on wearing a onesie myself (don’t ask, let it suffice that I had felt compelled to wear brave Ukrainian colours of yellow and bright blue) and we are offered toffees. As usual, it is the coconut and the malt left for me, never the mint, sigh. 

The format is unpretentious too. Eady will recite some dozen speeches by Shakespeare in a random order selected by the spinning of a multi-coloured wheel, each spoke bearing the title of a Shakespearean play. In this he will be accompanied by helpful sound and a little music from Paul Fox, who, dashingly costumed, stage-manages efficiently right alongside the actor. Fresh onesies are hanging ready to be grabbed from an onstage rack. 

This is the first performance, and Eady is finding his way. He seems a trifle disconcerted when the wheel stops on The Tempest, but to sounds of a tropical island he delivers a soliloquy from a resentful Caliban, followed by a Prospero pronouncing ‘our revels now are ended’ with as much dignity as a man can muster while wearing a rainbow unicorn onesie. 

Eady has a pleasant vocal style and sincere delivery, which varies surprisingly little from character to character. Though he has chosen not to create much contrast between his characters, in voice or body, I think I detect some significance in his changes of onesie: Sylvester the black cat for Hamlet, vividly coloured Sesame Street puppets for the crazed King Lear.  

Hamlet’s famous ‘To be or not to be’ seems rushed and uncertain, failing to take flight, for which Eady humbly and sweetly apologises. Early days. Neither does he seem satisfied with his interpretation of Lear’s rage against the storm (‘I think I’ve got more there,’ he murmurs), but actually this number is one of my favourites – I like the greater passion he brings to this character, the frustration and bitter anger. 

We meet with Oberon and Shylock, Iago and Richard III, but I am more interested in the less well-known monologues, that of Hotspur, and in particular, Don John, the ‘plain-dealing villain, who will not sing in his cage’. I would have liked Eady to explain and discuss John’s motives – patrons showed some desire to be involved in this way, one even enthusiastically interrupting, to inform us that the movie role of Don John had been played by Keanu Reeves.  

We have seen some interesting one-woman interpretations of Shakespearean female roles like Queen Margaret the Wolf, and whole plays (a solo Merry Wives!), and though Eady is a likeable presence and his onesies and wheel are amusing gimmicks, I am sure he could take us on a bolder, more challenging journey.  

There is promise in the premise, but it would yield more, if there were a clear theme that the speeches were exploring, leading us to some tremendous truth. Surely now if ever, as Russian forces bomb an actual Ukrainian theatre where civilians were taking refuge, is a chance to draw strength from our shared artistic heritage? Perhaps to benefit from the insight of great Russian writers like Chekhov, as well as our Shakespeare, with their deep understanding of human nature, and the forces that can drive us to the senseless cruelty of war? 

Apologies if I am deviating from pure reviewing, carried away by my conviction that though this is pleasantly undemanding Shakespeare, these are times when we need our drama to be demanding.  On the whole the small audience seems well content, helping with spinning the wheel, enjoying the novelty of not knowing which character will be selected next, and obligingly chanting the ‘Toil and Trouble’ chorus for Macbeth’s Witches. 

If not illuminating, Shakespeare in a Onesie is an enjoyable experience, a comfortably cosy evening that Eady shares with us. After all, some people must like the coconut and even the malt toffee. 


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