TOM The Artistic Director and self-appointed leader of the society. He is playing King Lear.
JASON The society’s Leading Man. He is playing Romeo.
REBECCA The society’s Leading Lady. She is playing Kate from Taming of the Shrew.
EBON The serious, intense member of the Society. He is playing Hamlet.
JUDITH The quiet one who no one really notices. She is playing Pericles (because it’s the only play she knows and it’s the one she always plays – and no one ever notices).
TERRI The member of the society who likes dressing up and having a drink in the bar afterwards. She is playing the witches from Macbeth.
The play was first produced online in May 2020 by the Northern Comedy Theatre, directed by Shaun Chambers.
The cast was:
Tom – Conner Simkins
Jason – Rob Hardie
Rebecca – Vikki Earl
Judith – Lauren Molyneux
Ebon – Kieran Maleedy
Terri – Kathryn Chambers
From Geoffrey Brown, Director of OffWestEnd;
I am pleased to announce that “Doing Shakespeare” has been awarded an OnComm – an Online Commendation. This new award has been introduced to recognise the best work that is now being presented online or broadcast during the Covid-19 lockdown.
This award follows from the OffComm introduced by OffWestEnd in 2019 to recognise shows with short runs, and is linked to our Offies awards which have been running for over 10 years.
NORTH WEST END UK
In a play written for theatre online, this Zoom production once again crafted by David Spicer, uses the Bard as its subject or Shakespeare’s plays to be exact. The Felching Players are to put on a play written by good old Will, but no-one appears to have thought it important to agree which play they are to perform in advance. The players all have their own favourites and believe that their play is to be staged. What could possibly go wrong? Everything! An artistic director who always seems to have his own way and resentment from the cast, are not a good combination for a successful production.
Whether you have a grasp of Shakespeare or not, you will love this production that pokes fun at this team of players.
The excellent script helps to fuse the different plays together using lines from mainly well-known Shakespeare gems, but there is a lesser known play thrown in there for good measure. The banter between the company is funny and they play off each other well and with the editing of classic Shakespearean lines to fuse the different plays together, it shows a clever and new approach to writing a comedy about Shakespeare. I came away having enjoyed 45 minutes of witty repartee. There are ways visually it could be improved by maybe adding a more interesting back drop along the theme of the play each character will perform. I loved the idea of this play and it works well on Zoom. Congratulations!
LIVERPOOL GUILD STUDENT MEDIA:
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. 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.
We’ve learnt one thing from this pandemic. The 21st century equivalent of The Globe Theatre turned out to be Zoom, where quite literally anyone from anywhere in the world could have watched this performance. Everyone had the best seat in the house. No more complaints from the groundlings.
The Northern Comedy Theatre Company played The Felching Players; the actors played various actors playing numerous characters from a smorgasbord of William Shakespeare plays, in a virtual comedy play written, not by Shakespeare, but by David Spicer. Get it? Basically, all the world’s a computer screen. The performers have their exits and their entrances: logging in and logging off. The Felching Players were supposed to come together to presenteth their online digital Shakespeare festival to the world. Where did it all go wrong? Tragically, each actor had learnt a different script but they carried on like the professionals they were attempting to be, creating a piece of discombobulating but trailblazing piece of performance art.
Bravo to the whole ensemble for doing a brilliantly bad job at butchering Shakespeare. The exaggerated performances and enlarged gestures were both typically stylistic and for this production, comedic. The backstage bickering was boisterously funny and the relationships between the cast members were well established. Good comedy timing was shown from everyone too. Considering this was not a traditional live theatre experience, they made the whole thing amusing and run like clockwork.
Though this be madness, there is method in it. It wasn’t all fatuous, Spicer asked, what do people want in theatre? Why do we perform shows? What is great acting? Which Shakespeare play is the best? It was about the trials and tribulations of running a theatre company and on the other side of the coin, the jubilant community spirit experienced by all. This wasn’t just a play performed on Zoom, the production used Zoom creatively. I liked the running gags but my favorite joke: The Fetching Players’ woeful production – based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel about the First World War and with an animal as the lead – called, “War Cow”. Let’s moove on apace.
For my epilogue, I shall state this production was most agreeable and had me chuckling frequently. The young cast have a bright future ahead of them. For their next performance, they might ask: to do or not to do Shakespeare, that is the question? Whatever the philosophical answer to this existential question, I’ll be sure to look out for their next spectacle.
Approx 45 minutes
Preview available here