To make Shakespeare ‘accessible and fun’, Shakespeare Bingo turns a play into the opportunity to spot relevant and completely gratuitous but fun absurdities, marking them off on a card during the show, until one lucky / loud winner is the first to shout out on completing a full house, thereby winning some play-related ‘prize’. To further make this year’s play – Titus Andronicus – ‘accessible and fun’, the audience is treated to the performers’ lives, their neuroses, relationships, etc. so that what you really get is “Shakespeare Bingo: The Soap, with Touches of Titus, Maligned”.
If you want to see Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, it is on offer elsewhere in this year’s Fringe: a strong production at C Venues, already reviewed here on Edinburgh Spotlight, and another production to be seen and reviewed soon (on at theSpace on Niddry Street). This Titus, from Bombini Theatre Company, is as chopped, mutilated and discredited as its hero and his family, even obscured rather than revealed by a section supposed to make things clear but whose narration was so overwhelmed by noise as to be unintelligible.
So why see this show? It’s fun! There are some fresh notions – though some of the humorous ideas wind up overworked – and there is a commitment to physicality and comedy, with a little bit more to say about life and Shakespeare, that is enjoyable. The large cast fill the stage without blocking the action, music is well-chosen and illustrative, even if volume needs adjusted if you want to hear the actors (usually helpful). There are running gags that work well, regarding infatuation, racism and keeping the stage clean – Titus is a notoriously bloody play – and before they rushed back to the silly humour a moment of pain was achieved through sound that was as impressive as unexpected given the rest of the comedy staging.
This is the kind of show where over-acting is a deliberate, and effective, comic ploy – though it would still be good to hear the words and not have them obscured by ’funny voices’ – and where silliness can rule without being too annoying. If such humour entertains you, then Shakespeare Bingo: Titus! is worth the watching – and there is a free glass of wine included!
By Danielle Farrow
8 – 20 August (not 14), 18:35 (19:25) @ theSpace @ Venue 45