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Shakespeare Butts Review

Burlesque, Events, Performance, Reviews

August 15, 2017

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.

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Review: Instant Theatre – Shakespeare After Dark! The Anniversary Show

Comedy, Culture, Events, Improv, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

June 19, 2017

With uproarious laughter and perfect comic timing, the audience was transfixed by what they saw. We had an audience with “The Bard” himself, Bartitsu and rapier fighting by Affair of Honor, an Elizabethan complements contest, an insult battle with pirate ships and pickle juice as the main insult components and Matheson the best drunk thespian they could summon.  Shakespeare After Dark is very close to being sorcery on its own, but they pull some serious magic Saturday night.  We can’t say this enough but this is absolutely some of the best improv you can see in the city.

Good and gentle bards soothed us with classic chamber music throughout the evening. Photo Credit Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Producer Chelsey Stuyt welcomes the audience and introduces us to the players. Photo Credit Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Joel Cottingham as William Shakespeare was our host! “I might call him / A thing divine, for nothing natural / I ever saw so noble.” – The Tempest Photo Credit Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

A packed house! Full of merry gentles! Photo Credit Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Affair of Honor showing us stunningly choreographed Bartitsu Photo Credit Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

A fair maiden receiving compliments Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

They were wooing her real good Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Pirates vs. Pickle Juice might foes in insults Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Affair of Honor and their endless rapier duel Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

It would be Shakespeare After Dark without a drunk actor. Matheson was our man of the evening. Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

“I’M A DRAGON” Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

A man armed with mead is as dangerous as a man armed with sword Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Like all good Shakespearean tragedies… There is a lot of death. Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Like … a lot of death… Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Did we mention there was death? Because there was. Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Standing Ovation! Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Chelsey bidding us a gentle night and merry revelry. Photo Credit By Peter Joseph for Living Myth Magazine

Our contest winners enjoying alcohol and snacks!

Congratulations Instant Theatre on a successful and hilarious Shakespeare After Dark!  If you want to catch their next show it will be at The Havana on July 22nd.

 

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Instant Theatre – Shakespeare After Dark – The Bard, Improvised and Twisted

Comedy, Events, Improv, Reviews

May 3, 2017

When I agreed to review this show, I thought that I would be seeing improvisers taking the premises of Shakespeare plays and then Mad-Lib style scene creation would happen… but wow and hoo-boy I didn’t see what I saw coming.

Mood Music

I arrived at The Havana early so I got a drink and a snack and hung out. As people started lining up for the show there was one guy who was incredibly boisterous and extra huggy with the people around him. Homeboy was drunk. A friend of mine was doing the doors for the show (we do a podcast together) and I mentioned that he was super drunk and she said… “Oh, have you not seen the show before? He is one of the improvisers, he is supposed to be drunk.” And there we have it good gentles a segue into a bonny tale.

Brad The Drunk is the best at being a railing.

As I entered the black box theatre at The Havana a guitarist was playing classical folk music to set the mood. Actors were milling about in peasant shirts. Then the show started.  Nikolai Witschl came on stage and introduced the show, which is two acts, one is a rehearsed piece from a Shakespearean play in which our drunk improviser is the main character and must remember while very drunk their lines including a monologue and the second is an improvised long form scene in the style of Shakespeare based on suggestions from the audience.

The first act was from All’s Well That Ends Well, following his father’s death, Bertram, the young Count of Rossillion, leaves home to attend the court of the ailing King of France, along with his friend Parolles. Helena, the Countess’s ward, is in love with Bertram, and reveals her affection to the Countess, who is sympathetic. The scene is from a trial.

Monologues are hard

Brad the Drunk (who was the inebriated improviser) was able successfully deliver his monologue and follow along with the scene but I am not sure that Shakespeare wrote in all of the extra swearing and long pauses into the scene. By the end of the scene, everyone in the audience was near tears because of the hilarity of the situation. I was so amazed at the performance that a wow slipped out of my mouth and without skipping a beat Brad The Drunk said, “You are correct, wow”.

The next act was the improvised scene, in which a tavern owner who was the former King of England works tirelessly to protect his daughter from finding out her royal line but also from having her meet and fall in love… which is exactly what happened, with a member of the royal court who is an adventurer. The adventurer and his sister met the local drunk who was named Bob.  There was also a plot to capture the Former King’s daughter and to sell back to her father for a price. All of this is 100% improvised. During this, Brad the Drunk was a ship’s rail and also as a parrot who would state the obvious. The conclusion of the story was the adventurer marrying the daughter of the Former King and Bob the Drunk marrying the adventurer’s sister.

Afterwards, I caught up with Brad the Drunk, he was all smile and very happy. His drink of choice was 375 ML of Bombay Sapphire and OJ between the hours 3pm and 10pm. Which, hopefully, was in a bottle that wasn’t recently recalled for being 77% alcohol.

It was a blast and something I think everyone will enjoy. You can catch the next installment of Shakespeare After Dark – The Bard, Improvised and Twisted, Saturday May 27th at The Havana.

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Bard on the Beach: The Tempest

Uncategorized

July 7, 2014

If you’re curious about Bard on the Beach but have always found reasons not to go, my advice to you is this: abandon those reasons. This is the best year to start. And a big part of that is their production of The Tempest, directed by Meg Roe.

For anyone unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s final play, here’s a quick summary: Prospero is an old magician who lives on an island with his teenaged daughter Miranda. He was once the Duke of Milan, but was deposed by his brother Antonio with the help of Alonso, the King of Naples. Now Prospero rules over this small island and its inhabitants: Caliban, the twisted son of a hag, and Ariel, a powerful spirit of the air. As the play opens, Prospero calls down a tempest on a ship carrying his enemies, Antonio and Alonso, along with Alonso’s teenaged son Ferdinand. Through much magic and trickery, Prospero works to lay his enemies low and bring Miranda and Ferdinand together. But there are other conspiracies in play that would bring the old wizard down instead, and Prospero is forced to choose between vengeance and virtue. (more…)

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Blank Verse: Shakespeare Re-invented

Books & Writing, Interviews, Showcase, Webseries

November 18, 2013

971361_548649381860855_571585594_nWhat would it be like if Shakespeare had not existed until now? How do we define greatness in our modern culture? Who is William Shakespeare?

Those are a few of the questions that gets explored in the new webseries Blank Verse. Set in the modern-day Will Shakespeare (portrayed by Xander Williams) begins his first year in the creative writing program of Bankside University and encounters many of his contemporaries.

I met with series creator and executive producer Amanda Konkin to talk about where the idea came from and how she and her creative team went about exploring the now contemporary bard. (more…)

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