The Complete Deaths: Spymonkey
(All of Shakespeares On-Stage Deaths)
Runs: 2h 10m, one interval
Warwick Arts Centre to 07 10 16 then touring
Tkts: 024 7652 4524
www.spymonky.co.uk (Full Tour Details)
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Warwick Arts Centre, 06 10 16
Iconoclastic, anarchic, irreverent, and fun
I think I had an assumption when I went to this that it would be a funny, clowning way through the complete deaths, sending them up and sharing with us some good laughs. It is unquestionably very funny in places, but there’s something more complex going on, something that’s hard to put your finger on. And whatever that is, it stems from a sense of organised anarchy from these four skilled performers, dollops of Dadaism and surrealism, and above all, intelligence.
An example . . . Toby (the serious one) is about to enact the death of Antony – the longest death in Shakespeare, we are told, 110 lines. While he does this he wants us to think about ‘the difficulty of finding a political solution to the troubles in the Middle East.’ This is a joke, but, as is obvious, not a comfortable one and Toby turns the spotlight on us, on our middleclass complacency.
Such moments help create a rich tapestry of humour as we engage in the count-down of death.
There are glorious slapstick comedy moments—like the mincing machine to dispatch deathees in Titus Andronicus or the wonderful shadow puppet account of Othello. There are splendid running gags, as in Petra Massey’s insistence on playing Ophelia (ruled out because it’s an off-stage death.) And how on earth does a fly get into R & J—you’ll have to see it to find out.
My only qualm is that this talented company do not succeed totally in drawing us into the show sufficiently; at times (particularly in the first half) we feel like observers of other people having a lovely party, rather than us enjoying the party at first hand.
However, it’s still a great party.
Aitor Bassauri, Stephan Kreiss, Petra Massey, Toby Park
Adapted and directed by Tim Crouch
Designed by Lucy Bradridge
Music composed and recorded by Tim Park