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Edinburgh Fringe: Shakespeare for Breakfast – C Venues C

Writers: Jemma Gross and the Company

Director: Jemma Gross

Reviewer: Selwyn Knight

[rating:4.5]

Shakespeare for Breakfast is something of a fringe tradition, dating back to 1992. Devised and performed by C Theatre, the in-house company at C Venues, it is at its best when, as with this year’s offering, it re-imagines a Shakespeare story but with contemporary twists and references. This year, Romeo and Juliet got the treatment in Romeo and Juliet: The Only Way is Little Venice, in which the warring factions came from The Only way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore. Fortunately, the audience only needs to be aware of these programmes, although those with a more detailed knowledge might unlock more jokes. The story was also brought up-to-date in that social networking formed some of the communication. Even so, the production is pretty faithful to the original storyline, with a good proportion of Shakespeare’s words retained alongside well written pastiches. However, some touches work less well – the occasional references to West Side Story and its balletic dances are not developed enough to have an impact, for example.

The young and talented ensemble cast act, sing and dance with skill and humour, appearing really to enjoy themselves throughout. They maintain a frenetic pace, despite many of them playing multiple rôles, with the necessary quick changes providing for knowing humour. The cast of six never seems to be quite enough to cover all the parts, so audience members are good humouredly included.

Shakespeare purists might not appreciate all of the liberties the breakfasters take, but it is difficult to see how this could be much better as an introduction to his storytelling in a hugely amusing and fast moving way. Highly recommended.

Runs until 27th August

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