Shakespeare - The Musical

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

27/04/2010 - 01/05/2010

NZ International Comedy Festival 2010

Production Details

To be or not to be,
Thus with a kiss I die,
Hey nonny, nonny
In their 20 year history at Circa Theatre, The Improvisors have had 2 favourite shows: Show us your Willy, an improvised Shakesperean play; and Improv – The Musical, a totally improvised musical. So to celebrate their 20th anniversary we’re combining the two shows to give you Shakespeare – The Musical, the improvised musical Shakespeare would have written.
Catch the show that warms your winter of discontent and could make any wife of Windsor merry.
Exit, pursued by a bear.
Shakespeare Insult Generator – Thou spongy hag-born withered-hag!
Welcome to The Improvisors 20th Anniversary Season! After starting in 1990 at Circa Theatre, in 20 years The Improvisors have achieved over 40 shows, covering everything from musicals to multimedia, Shakespeare to Soap Opera and of course Theatresports and were awarded BEST COMEDY at the 2009 Fringe Festival.

Dates: Tues 27 April – Sat 1 May, 7.30pm
Venue: Circa Two, 1 Taranaki St, City
Tickets: Adults $18, Conc $15
Booking: Circa Theatre 04 801 7992 or
Show Duration: 1 hour 30 mins           

1hr 30min

Brilliant! Shakespeare would be proud!

Review by Maryanne Cathro 28th Apr 2010

The Improvisors are shaking their gory locks at us in Shakespeare – the Musical. As if improvising wasn’t a big enough challenge, these cream-faced loons are committed to setting it to music: Yea verily, forsooth!

It all starts as improv shows tend to, with the performers coming out dressed in black – each with a rather dog-eared ruff. We are hassled for not being enthusiastic enough, and get to shout things instead. The audience provides random elements that ensure this show will not be like any other, including a character, the title, an object and a place.

And we choose Tragedy over Comedy and History, almost unanimously.

The plot that unravels untidily before us is as hilarious as we could have hoped for. Visigoths are planning to sack Seville, where the Duke can’t be bothered ruling any more and gives his crown to an ex hairdresser who, unbeknownst to the Duke, had killed his beloved daughter Magdalena by brushing her hair too hard and accidentally pulling her head off. Yup. Makes perfect sense! Oops I mean Yea, verily and zounds, it maketh sense forsooth!

Musically the show just gets madder, including a certain amount of putting each other on the spot. Ralph Howell’s apprentice Visigoth goads Greg Ellis’ sleeping ex hairdresser and Yeoman to sing his sleep-talking to an 80s techno beat. Revenge is sweet later when Ellis elicits more and more ridiculous ‘noises off’ from his fellow players, much to the delight of us all.

There’s probably a bit too much Anglo-Saxon in the lines to be truly Shakespearean and only Ian Harcourt manages to keep the iambic pentameter going, along with the necessary rhyming couplet before sweeping off the stage (how does he do it? The man is a machine!). And I’m quite sure that Heavy Metal didn’t come along until a few hundred years after, but it all adds to the fun!

The show ends with an impassioned if completely illogical denouement from Deana Elvins’ as the Duke’s Mother, and an ensemble piece that manages to tie the importance of using conditioner to the human condition.

Brilliant! Shakespeare would be so very, very proud!
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