If you haven’t heard already, Geekenders and Instant Theatre are partnering up to put on a Fringe show, “Slumber Here”, a real life RPG retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To raise funds for the much hyped mini donkey and portal to the fairy world, Geekenders presented to us A Bawdy Night of Bardlesque Revelry, a variety of burlesque acts based on the Bard’s sizeable body of work. Whether a Shakespeare nerd or someone who appreciates the art of burlesque, this marriage of the two is sure to be an entertaining ride.
The night began with the audience filing into the Rio Theatre with Shakespeare memes on the screen and Ren Faire-esque music from the speakers. As the band for “Slumber Here” led by Ian Montgomery takes the stage, the theatre came to a hush and otherworldly music filled the air. After a couple of songs, William Shakespeare himself (Instant Theatre’s own Nikolai Witschl) sauntered up to the stage to deliver many puns before introducing the first act with even more puns.
First act of the night was Hairy von Heels with his reinterpretation of King Lear. New to burlesque, Hairy von Heels brought life and humor to the tragic tale of familial love and succession. His costume changes and dance routine ended with a crown on his head and not much else.
Next in line was a routine based on The Merchant of Venice with Effie Alexandra as Portia and Stephen Blakley as Bassanio. Effie Alexandra’s mesmerizing routine had heavy hip hop overtones and incorporated selected audience members as the princes of Morocco and Arragon. As the number unfolded, each chose a box of gold and silver, leaving the box of Pb for Bassanio, thus winning her hand in a passionate embrace.
Afterwards, it was Antony and Cleopatra with Catfish as the titular queen of Egypt. Catfish’s Elizabeth Taylor-esque Cleopatra captured the audience with silliness and exaggerated expressions while prancing around on stage to The Bangle’s “Dance like an Egyptian”. An actual trouser (stuffed) snake put the routine to an end as Cleopatra slipped into eternal slumber.
What Midsummer Night’s fundraiser would be complete without its very own number? Next, we have Cruella De Vine in a transformational number as Nick Bottom. It began with the writer puzzling over his script only to have a fairy blow fairy dust (or glitter, as it is known in the mortal realm) blown in her face. This spelled her metamorphosis from human to Eeyore, off to find her Titania.
The only historical number of the night was Bella de Colletage as Queen Margaret from Henry VI. This kickass number saw Queen Margaret strutting on stage as Hairy von Heels’ Duke of York cowered in a corner in awe and fear.
Another of the Bard’s famous work, Taming of the Shrew, we had Jayne Fondue as Bianca, and Graeme Thompson, Greg Delmage, and Stephen Blakley as her three suitors. This hilarious number began with the three attractive – if pompous – suitors vying for Bianca’s affections and almost winning it. After much competition and chest pounding, each suitor then brought a gift as the final offering, one of which was a cheese pizza. To the audience’s surprise and delight, Jayne Fondue’s Bianca ran off with the pizza and left her suitors behind, awkwardly consoling each other.
Before intermission, the stage took a dark and delicious turn with Titus Andronicus, in which Kitty Glitter’s Titus committed a fun, brutal murder. Hairy von Heels and Seamus Fit-It-In appeared briefly as Chiron and Demetrius, Titus’ guilty victims who were made into pie. Kitty Glitter then smeared said pie all over herself and fed the audience whipped cream, once again proving that revenge is a dish best served sexy.
After intermission, the Slumber Here band once again captivated the audience with a couple of lively tunes before Will Shakespeare welcomed them back and introduced them to Romeo and Juliet. Trixie Hobbitses and Stephen Blakley serenaded the crowd with a parody of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music – “Thirteen Going on Fourteen”. The altered lyrics brought to light how amusingly creepy and ridiculous the premise of the story was, all the while in ironic contrast to Trixie and Stephen’s adorable displays of affection.
Next, we have a gender transcending number with Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutts as Twelfth Night’s Viola/Cesario. Ziggy sashayed on stage to a jaunty tune in a full suit, top hat, and a sparkly mustache. As the dance number progressed, she tap danced her way into a flowy dress and presented herself to be Viola, before shedding even that to reveal “Olivia” scrawled on her stomach with an arrow pointing downward, and “Orsino” above her rear.
No Shakespeare night is complete without Lion King Hamlet. Draco Muff-Boi and Ginger Femmecat took to the stage as the titular character and his lover. Ginger brought vividly to life the ethereal and delicate Ophelia, while Draco’s Hamlet appropriately brooded and sulked around the stage. With Ginger drowning in a mist from a squirt bottle and Draco expiring from poison, the routine came to an end with a proper Hamlet ending.
The second supernatural act of the night saw Jaspurr Moans as The Tempest’s Ariel. No, not the mermaid. This Ariel was more bird-like and danced sensually to enchantingly stormy music, ensnaring the audience with her routine.
Another spellbinding routine, the second last act was Lithium Little, Taylor Mayde, and Leeloo Oleander as the Wyrd Sisters from the cursed Scottish play. This bewitching display had the three sisters gyrating against fittingly ominous music with fireplay a consistent motif throughout the spellbindingly eerie number. The unearthly performance ended with the foretelling of Macbeth’s rise and fall, with a flash of fire through the crown.
Last but not least is Adam Stargasm’s debut as Julius Caesar, alongside Effie Alexandra, Kitty Glitter, Hairy von Heels, Princess Iwannaleia, Seamus Fit-It-In, and Stephen Blakley. This entertaining yet increasingly chaotic number captured perfectly the tumultuous nature of politics. And in true Shakespearean tragedy fashion, everybody died.
All in all, Bardlesque was much like many other Geekenders ventures, clever and entertaining. Even accumulating a pile of bodies on stage had the audience in stitches. To catch more of Geekenders ventures, coming up on August 18th is Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night at the Rio Theatre. Or if you want to see more Shakespearean ventures, click here to get tickets to Slumber Here.