Thursday, February 24, 2011
My Fringe Shakespeare Trilogy (after Macbeth on Saturday and @Shakespeare.com last night) concluded tonight with Shakespeare's Mothers: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.
As the Fringe Guide says, "while it's true that Shakespeare did write some lovely, kind, gentle mother characters, this play isn’t about them, it's about dangerous women - mothers whose rampant protectiveness, lusty appetites and vaunting ambition set them against powerful enemies and drove them to treachery, adultery, war, murder and madness".
Essentially they've taken all the "mad, bad and dangerous to know" mothers/female characters from a number of Shakespeare's plays and strung them together under the guise of Shakespeare presenting each of the characters to defend the claim that he only wrote "wicked" mothers.
The cast consists of three actors: Alexander Jonas who plays Shakespeare and all of the male roles, while Cat Martin and Kath Perry divide the roles of the mothers/women between them, changing between characters with the assistance of a large range of scarves/shawls and a few other accessories (crowns, the occasional bit of jewellery).
Martin and Perry are amazing, strong and feisty women who just act the living shit out of the various roles... as the title suggests, the play is much more about them than it is about Jones in either the role of Shakespeare or any of the male characters he plays to offset the women... in fact, in a number of the scenes he isn't really lit at all, the emphasis instead is squarely on the women.
Which isn't to say that he's not exceptional also, because he is, especially at the ease with which he switches between the parade of male characters and his portrayal of Shakespeare. But as I said, the play definitely belongs to the women.
They make amazing use of the space too... the stage is essentially bare beyond three chairs and two ladders which serve as racks for the various scarves and accessories... and I don't think that there's an inch that they didn't collectively cover, up to and including the steps through the middle of the audience.
It also made me realise that while I know one of two Shakespeare plays fairly well (Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear), there are a whole raft of plays that I either have never heard of or have never seen.
In short, it's a fantastic journey through the strong women of Shakespeare, and well worth a look!