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Shakespeare Goes for Gold, The Union Theatre

Produced by Noor Lawson and Liz McMullen for MyLovely Productions
★★★

Pros: A good idea, easy to watch and easy laughs.

Cons: A tad sloppy in places perhaps, but nothing too severe.

Our Verdict: Worth going to see, a fun evening out and MyLovely Productions are one to watch.

Courtesy of MyLovely Productions

In light of the current ‘Olympomania’, MyLovely Productions are getting into the spirit of things with their most recent production of Shakespeare Goes for Gold, in which they twist scenes from some of Shakespeare’s plays by reversing the genders. Understandably frustrated that the bard’s works do not have nearly as many strong female roles as they do male ones, MyLovely Productions’ aim is to enable strong female actors to perform several of Shakespeare’s most iconic scenes.

The Union Theatre is a small black box venue a short distance away from Southwark underground. Sitting in an arch under a railway bridge, the audience can hear the sound of trains overhead throughout the evening. This adds to the quirks of this unique venue, giving it an interesting talking point. However, while I personally enjoyed the slight noise disturbance, I can imagine that if the theatre was to stage poignant productions with wide, gaping and intense pauses, then the sound of the rails above would be frustrating!

Shakespeare Goes for Gold fantastically ridicules those Shakespearian characters that in 21st century Britain are outdated. An extra dimension is then added to the show by the swapping of the genders. This affords the audience a chance to recognise the similarities and differences between men and women. It works well; each scene was short and sweet but long enough to allow each performer a chance to showcase their talent. It was also clear that the team had worked tirelessly with the actors to portray the physical differences. The performers carried the opposite gender well without making it too humorous (unless the character and scene called for it which, being honest, they do regularly!).

The scene changes were smoothly done and I especially enjoyed the interchange between Marco Nanetti as the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet and Amanda Merchant as Twelfth Night’s Malvolio. It was funny and perfectly executed; some credit must be given to the person who came up with that particular order! The use of the audience during the pre-set, batting Shakespearean insults across the stage at anyone and everyone, was initially intimidating but everyone relaxed into it eventually, and it certainly acted as a fantastic mood-setter.

Shakespeare can be difficult to understand and some of the lines were lost when the actors slipped on their lines or mumbled them too quickly, but this only happened once or twice and it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the show. I didn’t really understand why they had picked some of the scenes, but it was certainly interesting to see the ones that I wasn’t expecting! On the other hand, I was pleased to see the scene between Kate and Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew included, and the banter passed between the two young actors smoothly.

The show is definitely worth going to see, it only lasts an hour and it’s not taxing. It would be a great introduction to Shakespeare, even though the genders are swapped. MyLovely Productions have put on another solid fringe production that is easy on the mind, cleverly put together and that exposes the audience not just to Shakespeare, but also to high-end academic critique in a simple and approachable manner.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below!

Shakespeare Goes for Gold has sadly finished its run at The Union Theatre. It was produced by MyLovely Productions, and more details about them and their upcoming performances can be found online:

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