By Danielle Farrow
‘Shakespeare for Breakfast’ is a traditional Fringe favourite for many, delivering a different take on Shakespeare every year, with a few props, helpful costume choices for quick changes and minimal or no set. It’s the latter this year, for a modern A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complete with topical – even political – entertainment, including social media, popular films and celebrity / reality TV laughs. Shakespeare’s own comedic tale of struggling lovers and would-be actors is not lost in all this, with excellent interweaving of original lines and a real understanding of his script which makes the updating highly relevant and well-grounded. Rhythm also remains part of the delivery, mixing blank verse and prose, and adding to the meta-theatre self-references that are also clear to non-theatrical types. The traditional inclusion of easy audience participation is also very well handled and includes some fresh approaches – great to see after 25 years of this event.
The energetic cast of five play their multi-roles with verve, clear differentiation between characters, and a great sense of fun, much appreciated by the audience. Running gags, Star Wars references, musical time warps, wigs and water guns all mingle with the classic story, and support it, while croissants feature as the magical love device – for this popular take on Shakespeare is, of course, famous for its ‘Breakfast’ component: croissant and coffee (or tea) for everyone.
As this fast-paced romp nears its finale, there is a sense that the creators suddenly realised there was still a lot to get through, and the specific, well thought out writing of the bulk of the piece here lessens. This brings some flagging and looseness to the end, but there is no doubt that the audience have had a great time and have been thoroughly entertained.
Whether you are simply after a hilarious play, or are a fan of different approaches to the Bard of Avon’s works, ‘Shakespeare for Breakfast’ is a great boost to the start of your day.