The Shakespeare Revue
Paul Johnson | 24 Sep 2011 16:17pm
Revue is now a rarity on the London stage – yet fifty years ago it was a hugely popular part of the West End theatre scene. One recent production which rekindled interest in that entertaining theatrical form was THE SHAKESPEARE REVUE, which was given a sparkling revival by the Lighted Fools Company. Originally staged by the RSC in 1994 it includes a wide eclectic mix of material ranging from J B Priestley to Victoria Wood, linked – sometimes very loosely – with the Shakespeare theme all in a variety of styles. It demands versatility, energy and polish and these qualities were hallmarks of this production under the direction of Richard Parish. With 36 items which included song and dance and token costume changes, the production might have become tediously episodic but that was not the case here as the piece moved slickly through the programme with barely a hitch. The four talented performers played well together in the concerted numbers but complemented each other in their solo numbers. Above all they really communicated with the audience which made for such an enjoyable evening. With so many items there are bound to be some which work better than others but the joy of Revue is that – like London buses – if one is missed, there will be another one along very shortly. My favourites included Maggie Lilley playing the ageing grande dame singing ‘Which Witch’, Richard Parish giving us the failed actor’s ‘The Night I Played Macbeth’, Karen Sahlsberg’s Lady Macbeth being seduced by Romeo, and the immensely versatile David Webb in almost everything he did – but particularly his novice actor rendition of ‘I’m in the RSC!’ There was neat choreography and the musical items – including such great numbers as ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ and ‘Let’s Do It’ were delivered with infectious relish. The players had been well-drilled by their musical director Gill Parish, whose sensitive piano accompaniment added greatly to the evening. In spite of the restricted space at the Riverhouse Barn the production had plenty of movement. It was interesting that the piece that worked least well was the extract from Just William where all four players sat and read from their books. This appeared in the second half which, as a whole, perhaps needed a shade more invention to give the revue a less predictable shape.
- : user
- : 09/07/2004