The Lucha Lounge, 1 York St Newmarket, Auckland

25/06/2014 - 28/06/2014

Campbell's Free Kindy (Victoria Park), Auckland

02/07/2014 - 05/07/2014

Production Details

“Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese…”

A roving collection of scenes from Shakespeare’s problem plays. Be prepared to move.

Timon of Athens:
Timon is an altruistic citizen of Athens, but will his friends help in his time of need?

Measure for Measure:
Isabella’s brother Claudio is about to be executed. How far will she go to save his life?

All’s Well That Ends Well:
Helena loves Bertram and enlists the King of Frances help to marry him. When Bertram rejects her just how far does she go to win him back? 

Natalie Crane, James Crompton, Candice Naude, Aimee Olivia, Caleb Wells, Jacqui Whall and Patrick Graham


Week one Venue:
The Lucha Lounge
1 York St Newmarket
June 25 – 28, 7:30pm

Week two Venue:
Campbell’s Free Kindy (Victoria Park)
203 – 271 Victoria Street West, Auckland CBD
It’s the brick building in the middle of Victoria Park.
July 2 – 5, 7:30pm 

With big thanks to The Classic Comedy & Bar and First Scene Ltd  

Keeping the Bard’s words breathing

Review by Robbie Nicol 28th Jun 2014

It’s not polished, it’s heavily abbreviated, and it’s by no means the clearest performance of Shakespeare you will ever see, but Shakespeare’s Problems is fun in a rough and ready way that just works. 

I feel a little uncomfortable when I first arrive. All seating is audience seating, and the actors are already wandering about in character. I don’t know what to say to them, and sometimes they don’t seem sure what to say to me. It is a bit of a relief when the scripted words of Timon of Athens first ring out.

Timon is the throughline of the show, played by James Crompton with plenty of charisma. His descent pulls us through Measure for Measure and All’s Well that Ends Well, both having been heavily cut down.  

The plot for All’s Well that Ends Well becomes a little lost in the abbreviation, but the loss of clarity is a price we’re willing pay for all the scenes we want to see. Caleb Wells’ and Aimee Olivia’s discussion of virginity as Parolles and Helena is a particular highlight. (Although, a fellow audience member did find being approached by Olivia in the following monologue a little overwhelming. “She’s just so pretty!”) 

Candice Naud is at her best when playing Vincentio (and also therefore *400 year old spoiler alert!* Friar Lodowick), and the moment we are left alone out the back of the bar with a silent Jacqui Whall is certainly the most haunting of the production. 

Yes, the audience moves around the bar. It doesn’t always work, but thankfully the moments of absurdity (and costuming support from the local sex shop) keep the audience entertained where enthusiasm might have slipped.

It might seem as though the adlibbing of the actors as they wait for the audience to move around is out of place, but I was once in the audience at the Globe and as we cheered Katherina a character turned to us and said, in contemporary English, “Don’t encourage her.”  

Shakespeare is supposed to be fun, and his work is supposed to be inclusive. What matters is that the actors stay in character. Hopefully as the cast become more confident interacting with the audience as their characters (both before the show and as we move around the space), the production will sustain audience engagement with greater confidence. 

A casual interaction gradually does develop between cast and audience, and by the end there is easy laughter at the increasing silliness of Patrick Graham as the King of France. Natalie Crane even goes so far as to make loud whooping noises in a strong plummy accent as All’s Well that Ends Well reaches its crescendo around her. 

In many ways, performing Shakespeare in a bar makes a lot more sense than performing Shakespeare on a conventional stage. You should be a little drunk for Shakespeare. The actors should talk right at you, and they should be able to see who they’re talking to. It’s small productions like this that keep the Bard’s words breathing in the long Shakespeare-less weeks of an Auckland winter, and I’m all for it. 


Scott McPherson June 30th, 2014

This performance was something that I will truley not forget. Even not being a dedicated shakespeare follower, I felt like I was part of the play. The atmosphere being very close quarters brought you literally right in the middle of come the play, allowing me to understand and follow what was going on. It had a very creative feel and can imagine every performance being slightly different according to the crowd. I would definatly recommend attending this play as it was very unique to any other Ive ever been to. I would even consider attending again!

Bridget Henderson June 30th, 2014

This was the first live theatre I have been to in a while ... and it rocked! It was unpredicatable, funny, confrontational and surprisingly moving. The actors were strong and the intensity of some scenes, within the intimate setting of this cool little bar, was impressive. I thought the scenes  between Jacqui Whall and Caleb Wells in particular packed a real punch. Provocative stuff! If you go along to this play expect the unexpected..and you HAVE to go along to this play! Seeing this production has reminded me how exciting and immediate live theatre can thank you theatrewhack! What's next??

Katy Owens June 30th, 2014

I loved seeing the Bard re-invented and re-energized, especially by such a talented, dedicated band of actors. Patrick Graham's direction and artistic vision brings the whole thing together, up in your face and personal. Shakespeare's Problems made for one side splitting, jaw dropping, seriously sexy Saturday night.

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