22nd July 2021
Theatre companies across the country have been doing all they can to keep going and keep creative. David Spicer’s new play Doing Shakespeare is about the Felching Players, a stereotypical am dram company, who are trying to put on their first online Shakespeare. However, artistic director Tom forgot to send an email to the cast so they’ve all learnt a different Shakespeare play.
The play is very funny, particularly the middle section where the performers discuss the confusion over the play they’re meant to be doing. This part of the play feels very natural as well which is a credit to Spicer’s writing. The show is only 45 minutes long which is the perfect running time for this new type of online theatre. You can also tell the show is incredibly well rehearsed with transitions being very smooth using recorded music and images, timing never feeling too delayed and great uses of Zoom backgrounds. The fancy dress style costumes also help to portray the amateur theatre company in a comedic way.
Northern Comedy Theatre always puts some of Liverpool’s best comedic actors in the spotlight and this production is no different. Connor Simkins plays Tom, the artistic director who always thinks he knows best. It some becomes apparent he doesn’t and his ambitions are too high for the company he leads. Simkins does a great job at portraying the sheer frustration Tom feels and his delivery of lines from King Lear is great. It takes a great actor to play someone who can’t act very well. Rob Hardie opens the play wonderfully with lines from Romeo and Juliet. He really draws the audience in from the first words. Kieran Maleedy is very funny as the superstitious actor who feels the need to break the curse that supposedly comes if you say Macbeth on stage. He brings plenty laughs in his speeches from Hamlet as well which I’ve never heard said quicker!
Vikki Earle is lovely although her character doesn’t seem as big and outlandish as the others in the play. This works quite well though as all amateur societies have people who tend to keep themselves to themselves. Kathryn Chambers was very funny as the elderly lady in the company, who you could imagine had been there since the company started meeting in the village hall decades ago. Lauren Molyneux completes the cast as the typical millennial who only knows one Shakespeare play because she learnt it in school. Her characterisation was incredibly believable – she definitely gave one of the strongest performances in the play.
Northern Comedy Theatre have done a great job at putting David Spicer’s play. They make great use of the technology available through Zoom. However I do still miss being with other people in the audience and hearing the live response from others watching. The ending felt quite jarring as there’s no ‘bows’, so when it ends you’re left wondering if it’s actually finished. This play is thoroughly entertaining and will be very funny for anyone who has been involved in amateur theatre. I’m sure it’d be even funnier for people who know Shakespeare quite well.
Doing Shakespeare can be watched via Zoom Webinars throughout this week with various times available. Full details can be seen here on Northern Comedy Theatre’s website.