Sometimes being an employee of Bristol Old Vic has some major advantages. Take Friday afternoon for example when I was lucky enough to watch a run of upcoming show FairyMonsterGhost in Coopers’ Loft.
I, Peaseblossom was up first and it’s looking fantastic. Kate Mayne is instantly likeable as A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s fairy and conjures up a real sense of magic, mischief and fun. It’s completely impossible not to smile, particularly with the small section of audience participation (I was Theseus, Duke of Athens don’tcha know!) The monologue is beautifully written and easy to follow – even for those that may not be familiar with Shakespeare’s original story. The enchanting music and ethereal set just top the whole thing off and create a beautiful, intimate piece that will be enjoyed by adults and children alike. A real gem that will catch even the littlest of eyes!
I, Caliban was next up and provided a definite mood change. After a hilarious start, we hear of the trials and tribulations of being half man/half fish on Prospero’s island. This monologue provides some really touching moments as well as laugh-out-loud comedy. Caliban has always been one of my favourite characters so seeing The Tempest from his point of view is fantastic, it should really engage children with the story. The use of set, costume and props just add to the well written monologue and Jimmy Whitaker completely charms the room. Somehow each and every audience member feels involved in the piece and the room is full of beaming faces. By the end of the rehearsal period this should be a piece to be reckoned with; a bittersweet tale of scheming, plotting and drinking! Hooray!
Last up was I, Banquo, which brought yet another change in tone. The piece is obviously more serious than the others, but this is no bad thing – it simply allows for the intensity of the monologue form to be more deeply felt. It was explained at several points during the show that the action would be punctuated with long, sustained notes from an electric guitar, which I think will exaggerate this all the more in the final performance. Adam Peck as the betrayed Banquo succeeds in captivating the audience with measured speech and repeated appeals for them to actually assume the character of Macbeth. Visually, at this stage in rehearsals, it does leave a lot to the imagination. Adam’s only prop is a bucket of water, which he repeatedly dips his hand into, occasionally wiping his brow or splashing the droplets onto a plain paper backdrop behind him. Replace this water with 32 litres of fake blood, and it’s not difficult to picture how visually striking the real thing will be. Some say not for the faint hearted. I say not to be missed.
FairyMonsterGhost is a trilogy of one-man shows written by Tim Crouch. I, Peaseblossom, I, Caliban and I, Banquo are told from the point of view of characters from the sidelines of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Having watched the first run-through of I, Peaseblossom and I, Caliban I am now really looking forward to seeing the finished article.
I, Peaseblossom views the events of A Midsummer Night’s Dream through the dreams of Peaseblossom, one of Titania’s fairy subjects. Peaseblossom possesses a child like innocence which sheds new light on Shakespeare’s convoluted tale of lovers and, watching the run-through, it struck me how charming this new perspective on a well loved classic tale is.
Jimmy Whiteaker’s performance as Caliban is looking great, he manages to give the impression of being monstrous even without costume! Even watching it at this early stage, you could tell that it will be a thoroughly enjoyable show whether you’re familiar with the original play or not.