Friday, 15 August 2014

Shakespeare, his Wife and the Dog++++= Lucifer++++=

The play's the thing...
Although they generate very different atmospheres, both *3Shakespeare, his Wife and the Dog *2and *3Lucifer *2prove that there is still life in scripted theatre. Both scripts play loose with their source material – the life and works of the Bard and the Biblical myth of the Fallen Angel respectively – and engage the audience through strong central performances. 

Yet their intentions are entirely distinct. While *3Shakespeare *2is a playful canter through the playwright's declining years, with plenty of references to the Collected Works, *3Lucifer *2makes a taut analysis of how power corrupts, especially in a city where the law and the criminals are hand-in-glove.

As part of Jethro Compton's Capone Trilogy, *3Lucifer *2is perhaps one of the most precise plays in the Fringe. With only a cast of three, an intimate hotel room setting and rumours from Capone's imprisonment floating around the protagonists rise to power and descent to villainy, Compton and playwright Jamie Wilkes follow his increasing isolation from his wife and family. His reliance on violence as a solution to business difficulties is reflected in his behaviour in the home and his power plays strip him of friends and love. It is an intense hour, with Compton's direction at its most terse and exacting.

*3Shakespeare, his Wife and the Dog*2, however, is a joyous celebration of language, despite the underlying themes of senility and death. Finding himself unfashionable, Shakespeare retires and makes his household's lives miserable. Challenged by his wife, he goes through his glorious past, quoting from his glories and trying to find meaning in his past.

As a meditation on old age, the script is given a sparkle by the quotations, but it feeds heavily on the reputation of the hero: the main points are stolen from various of his plays, and the strength of the production comes from the charming central performances.

The success of both plays attests to the versatility of scripted theatre: where *3Shakespeare *2looks back to the past, and hooks into the ongoing public love of Shakespeare, Compton uses the script as a springboard for exciting staging and contemporary discussions about morality. While devised theatre, physical theatre or dance theatre may be more fashionable, the script still has a tale to tell.

*10Shakespeare, his Wife and the Dog

Summerhall, 560 1581, until 24 Aug, 2pm, £14 (£10)


C Nova, 0845 260 1234, until 25 Aug, 6pm, £11.50 -- £13.50 (£9.50 -- £11.50).

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