Tag Archives: Shakespeare

All’s Well That Trends Well

To celebrate the recent 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, one independent drama company is planning a series of the great man’s plays with a modern twist.

The Millennial Theatre Company for Millennials is situated in a trendy borough of London that is home to a plethora of pop-up art galleries, theatres, organic coffee shops and confused, angry locals slowly being airbrushed out of existence by the unyielding yoke of gentrification.

Indeed this chic quarter is so fashionable that it foregoes the archaic nominative traditions that have historically been used to label residents of an area as being residents of that particular area, and is often referred to by those in the know as simply The Borough with No Name.

The company’s innovative re-imaginings of the Bard’s work are designed to attract a whole new audience of young, vibrant trendsetters to the world of community theatre. Its tagline of “Drama: It’s Dramatic!” underlines the simple approach of its director, Fiach Atticus Higgins-Collins.

“Young people want to be entertained,” says Higgins-Collins. “Shakespeare’s works have a lot of extraneous nuance and subtext that tends to confuse people. We’ve just focused on keeping the drama, and that’s what our theatre is all about: Drama.”

The last word is whispered with the sincerity of a true artist at work. His ground-breaking vision is one of theatre as social network, in which the audience plays an active part in proceedings.

“They’re encouraged to Tweet their reactions scene by scene, to live blog the plays, to put pictures on Instagram,” explains the director.

“The audience is our portal to the digital world,” he says with a theatrical and rather complex hand gesture that lasts several seconds.

So what can people hope for from yet another modern Shakespeare adaptation?

“Whatever happens it’s going to be dramatic,” promises Higgins-Collins, “very dramatic.”

To give us a taste of what we can expect the company has kindly provided the following guide to the programme of plays, with a brief synopsis of each one.

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Hamlet

The King of Denmark is having problems with paranormal activity in his royal residence. He needs to put his mind at ease so he can get back to being fiscally prudent and enjoying football and expensive beer in moderation. So who’s he gonna call? That’s right – Ghost Büsters!

Not to be confused with any existent trademarked fictional paranormal detectives, Ghost Büsters are Scandinavia’s premier exorcism specialists. Which of course means that they have their own reality TV show on Danish satellite channel Kanal Umlaut.

Follow the exploits of the team, Lars, Kristian, Lars Kristian and Magnusson Lars Magnusson as they investigate the ghoulish goings-on at Castle Hamlet. Will they succeed in ridding the place of its spectral intruders before the important visit of the Norwegian Minister for Fishing? What supernatural device does Lars Kristian find in the Queen’s underwear drawer? And which of the house servants comes under increasing suspicion as the full story is revealed in a devastating and dramatic denouement? To be there or not to be there – there is no question!

Romeo and Juliet

This timeless love story is brought into the digital age in this brave adaptation. Romeo is bored with meeting the same dull, vacuous girls on Tinder, and is feeling hopeless. When he comes across Juliet’s profile, however, it’s love at first swipe.

The two share stories, laughs and animal memes as Romeo falls deeper in love with this seemingly perfect woman. Her answer to every question is exactly the response he had hoped for; every text is witty and self-deprecating; she shares every one of his hobbies, interests and rather vanilla sexual fantasies. Romeo is besotted – he must meet her in person.

However the frisson of romance is dissolved in a heartbreaking and dramatic twist when Juliet turns out to be a Google drone that had been deployed for marketing purposes in order to improve their targeted advertising algorithms. Romeo is crushed, and after sharing some valuable insurance policy price-comparing information, and a somewhat clumsy yet beautiful kiss, the two part ways forever.

Elizabeth II

Nobody wants to hear about a boring old bunch of Richards, Henrys and Johns so the Bard’s oeuvre of historical plays have been replaced with a majestic and moving tribute to the current Queen and her family. In fact most of the play centres on Prince William and Princess Catherine, since Twitter polls have shown that they’re the most popular royals among most key demographics. The Queen and Prince Philip are actually quite far down the list behind all of their great-grandchildren, some of their pets and even a few of Princess Charlotte’s teddy bears.

There is also the fact that a large number of millennials are somewhat hazy on the particulars of the monarchy; many of them think that the Queen is either David Cameron’s mum, or the woman who invented paper money.

The action of the play, therefore, is mostly based around the morning of an OK Magazine photo shoot in William and Catherine’s stately mansion. The drama unfolds as our protagonists are forced to deal with lighting problems, make-up shortages, and a delightfully whimsical last-minute wardrobe change after a hilarious (and dramatic) juice spillage.

The play also presents us with several tense sub-plots such as Prince George’s traumatic flashbacks to his brave battle against chickenpox, and Princess Charlotte’s touching personal struggle to learn how to use a spoon to eat her yoghurt.

Othello

Othello is a Syrian refugee who attempts to flee his war-torn homeland with his family to start a new life in Europe. The story follows his heartbreaking struggle in the face of adversity.

Othello’s journey begins with a narrow escape from death in his country’s bloody civil war, which impels him to seek a new life for his loved ones. The family overcome many physical, emotional, financial and political obstacles on their odyssey to the safe haven of Europe, enduring oppression, rebuttal and failure at every turn.

Eventually Othello and his family are successfully processed and granted asylum to live and work in Europe. Many months after they had set out on the long road to meet their uncertain future, they finally arrive at their new home: a sleepy English seaside village that reminds Othello of his grandfather’s home town which he used to visit as a boy. He is relieved beyond words, beyond emotions; relieved, content and even a little proud of what he has achieved for his family.

Their travails along the way have made them stronger and brought them closer to each other than they had ever thought possible. They wake at last to a dawn full of promise and possibility.

Unfortunately two weeks later Britain votes to leave the EU and they are promptly sent home.

Macbeth

This tale of a married couple seduced and corrupted by the promise of political power is transposed to the more glamorous setting of the US for a contemporary audience, because nobody cares about Scottish independence.

The gullible, power-hungry Macbeth manages to get elected President through nefarious means, while his cold, calculating wife is the real power behind the throne.

Years after her husband’s career has finished, the cunning Lady Macbeth plots a return to power. Spurred on by her ruthless ambition, hurt by the indiscretions of her husband and supported by supremely powerful vested interests, this reptilian warmonger looks set to claim the Presidency for herself, with only a court Fool standing in her way on the other side of the political divide.

Enter the brave Macduff, a plain-speaking, honest merchant, and a member of the Macbeths’ own court. His is a hopeless task as he attempts to stand up for the rights of the downtrodden and defy the might of the Macbeth dynasty. However his wit, intelligence and integrity convince the people of the realm that the last thing they need is another Macbeth on the throne, and the vile harridan is defeated.

King Lear

Juxtaposing this classic tale of human suffering and familial conflict with the trappings of the modern entertainment industry, this adaptation sees the Lear family take their dispute to the ultimate arbiter of fairness and justice in the land: Mr. Jeremy Kyle.

The absurdly wealthy landowner Lear, a mean-tempered, conservative war veteran, is terminally ill and wishes to divide his estate among his three daughters. Regan, the eldest, is married to a successful City broker and has raised a family of her own. Goneril, the middle child, is a partner at one of the country’s top law firms. Both appear on the show to fulsomely profess their love and respect for their father.

Cordelia, the youngest, has always been different, and has not spoken to her father for many years. She identifies as a non-binary pangender individual who lives an austere, self-sufficient life on an alpaca farm in Cumbria with her life partner Esperanza, with whom she has adopted six children, each from a different African country. They earn a little extra money by making Anarchist Party woollen jumpers that they sell online.

The explosive and dramatic showdown between estranged father and daughter is one you won’t want to miss. Can Lear and Cordelia grow to accept each other before it’s too late? Will Jeremy’s sage judgement help Lear to overcome his heteronormative bias and embrace his little girl’s life choices? Or will the drama be too much to keep this dysfunctional family from crumbling apart? Drama!

The Tempest

Climate change is having a more egregious impact on our planet as each year goes by, and this retelling serves as a prophetic warning about its dangers.

As prevailing weather conditions become more erratic around the globe, the Pacific Ocean becomes one of the most turbulent regions, being struck almost daily by violent storms. One fateful day a super storm with immensely powerful wind speed hits just a few miles off the US coastline, causing a massive waterspout.

This spout causes thousand of the sea’s most fearsome (and most dramatic) creatures, great white sharks, to be pulled out of the ocean depths and deposited onto the streets of downtown LA, resulting in chaotic scenes of epic proportions.

* The Millennial Company’s legal team has advised that this synopsis be accompanied by a reminder that the company’s recent legal battle with the Syfy channel was settled out of court, and that the details of said case shall remain private by special court order.

Elizabeth II Part II

This one hasn’t been written yet, but it will just be the most popular characters from Part I repeating the catchphrases that trended the most over and over again.


Abridged Too Far

It emerged this week that student organisations at American colleges have been requesting ‘trigger warnings’ to appear on books that may have the capacity to offend or traumatise those who read them.

Trapped somewhere within this, approximately the seven hundred millionth example of Americans eschewing common sense for reactionary political correctness in their own inimitably shameless fashion, is an important and not altogether insensible point attempting to be heard, whereby sufferers of certain distressing events may wish to be forewarned of any work of literature that may elicit unpleasant memories.

This concession notwithstanding, I will not attempt to address such a point here, as to do so would result in an interminably boring and saccharine dirge of well-meaning rhetoric, better suited to a sanctimonious Upworthy article or a particularly downbeat episode of Oprah.

Instead I’m going to imagine what would happen to our canon of literature if its disquieting elements were expunged, in order to accommodate the delicate dispositions of our puritanical complainants. Let’s have a look at how some of our most treasured books would fare if anything liable to offend were removed…

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American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

Nothing is going right for our protagonist Patrick Bateman in this delightful ‘80s romp. Join our hero as he negotiates through one disaster after another: misprinted business cards, video store fines, and troublesome cran-apple juice stains on his best bed linen. Will he make it to Dorsia in time for dinner with his Wall Street chums? The fun never stops in this riotously entertaining farce. New version includes bonus CD packed with ‘80s floor-fillers from the likes of Genesis and Huey Lewis and the News.

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Join Humbert Humbert and his precocious step-daughter Lolita on this picaresque adventure across America, during which nothing untoward happens between the pair whatsoever. The New York Times called it ‘a monumentally uneventful tale of separate bedrooms, platonic hair-ruffling, and dull car conversations about whether taupe and beige are really just the same colour.’

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

It is testament to McCarthy’s skill as a writer that the atmosphere of this lyrical masterpiece remains intact within the twenty-seven words that make up the redacted version. Words like ‘boy’, ‘man’ and ‘road’ evoke powerful images of a boy and a man on a road, possibly travelling towards some sort of merry picnic or familial get-together. The magnificent Quentin Blake illustrations only add to the cheerful whimsy of this thoroughly enjoyable read. The ultimate holiday book.

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss

Sally and her brother are home alone, bored and restless, when there is a knock at the door. Sally opens it to find a mysterious stranger, a Cat in a Hat.

‘Good afternoon, Miss,’ he begins, ‘I’m here today to talk to you about the one true God.’

Sally invites the courteous stranger inside for tea and biscuits, and the trio exchange philosophical chit-chat and bland witticisms for the next six hours. Eventually the Cat politely excuses himself and returns to his suburban bungalow. He tucks his children in, pours himself some warm milk, and settles in for the evening with the Times crossword.

Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

What started as a drunken dare between Jack and Tyler develops into a worldwide phenomenon, as their white collar boxing promotion earns millions for various charities and worthy causes. The philanthropic pair also moonlight as Project Sunshine, a clandestine force for good that commits mischievous but well-intentioned acts, such as painting comic book characters on orphanage walls, building houses for victims of natural disasters, and breaking into hospitals to fill the child cancer wards with thousands of multicoloured balloons. A life-affirming novel to be cherished by all.

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Meet Alex, a happy-go-lucky droog who enjoys milk, Beethoven and going to bed early. He and his rapscallion chums get up to all sorts of high jinks, like pressing strangers’ doorbells and running away, kicking empty cans along the road, and making prank telephone calls. This amusing vision of the future shows us that even though language and technology may change, the innocence and playfulness of youth are timeless.

Complete Works, William Shakespeare

This monumental volume completely transforms the Bard’s classic tales for a contemporary audience. The brave decision to completely erase all of the text and replace it with pictures of laughing children, and adorable animals that have got their heads stuck in things, is a masterstroke of modernisation. For as the great man himself once wrote, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some…Ha! That squirrel has a flowerpot on his head. He can’t get it off!

Dracula, Bram Stoker

Jonathan Harker is one of London’s top estate agents, but he’s about to meet his most demanding client yet – a curmudgeonly Count from Transylvania. Join Jonathan as he weaves his way through a logistical labyrinth of paperwork, deals with fastidious customs officials, and attempts to meet the exacting requirements of the mysterious Count. More of a technical treatise on relocation than a novel, this is sure to set hearts racing among accountants, school principals and high-functioning autistic savants the world over.

It, Stephen King

Pennywise the Dancing Clown is down on his luck, and things are looking bleak. Until he meets a gang of special children, who through their kindness reignite his love of performing and help him get back on his feet. A marvellous novel dealing with themes of love, companionship and redemption. The first five hundred copies come with a free Pennywise action figure, with real dancing feet!

The Bible, God (citation needed)

This new version of the Good Book foregoes the barbaric apocryphal stories of old and instead concentrates only on the parts that contain cogent, sensible advice for living well. As such it comes in at just under a third of one page, a large part of which is footnotes explaining that most of the text was probably mistranslated anyway and should be ignored. Readers are encouraged to fill the remaining seven hundred and ninety-nine pages with drawings of the Baby Jesus and lists of people who they don’t think belong in heaven.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne

Bruno’s father is a very important man. He runs an enormous leisure camp, where people can avail of fun activities all day, every day. Bruno is sad because he wants to make friends, but isn’t allowed in. One day he decides to sneak in and have an adventure. This story of one boy’s daring day out in the camp is heart-warming fare, and is sure to rekindle memories of going to camp as a child, or at the very least of going to see the film Ernest Goes to Camp.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

Winston Smith is all alone in the world, and even a fulfilling factory job can’t ease his disquiet. That is, until he meets his new friend from the Big Brother programme. Winston’s fraternal surrogate takes him out on day-trips to the circus, buys him ice-cream, and playfully grabs him in headlocks and nuzzles his head. A wonderful novel about life, friendship and the unspoken obligation to humour those weaker than us out of pity. A triumph.

Iliad, Homer

Paris and Helen are throwing the wedding of the century, and you’ve been invited! Join the madcap cast of characters for this matrimonial misadventure: Menelaus, the surly ex-husband with a heart of gold; Patroclus, the flamboyant life partner of Achilles who always says what’s on his mind; Odysseus, whose equine-themed wedding present you’ll have to see to believe! (or read about to believe in this case). Will Helen get cold feet on the big day? Who will win the Achilles-Hector dance off? How do you play 500 Miles with just a lyre and a pan flute? Answer these questions and more by picking up your copy today!