Left - Francesca Savige. Cover - Ross Balbuziente and Francesca Savige
Shakespeare is NOT for losers. His plays are soooool cool, man. He's, like, totes relevant to the way us kids, like, live and stuff. Even today!
Statespeare tries admirably, unashamedly, to make the case. This Elizabethan mega-mix takes the world's greatest playwright to the school yard where the kids, bless their little knee-high cotton socks, are dragging Shakespeare and each other kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Lachlan and Nerys are, like, total drama dorks with a love of the works of William in their purist form. But their partnership ends when they're forced into a group with Jay and Rob, the cool kids who reckon the old English dude is, like, so last century. Together, they have to answer the assignment topic: is Shakespeare still relevant?
You bet your skull prop he is. The foursome present scenes from his plays, performed traditionally and hyper-contemporarily, while deconstructing and debating the character motivations and story arcs. Much of the collection is referenced: Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, All's Well That Ends Well, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Macbeth, Hamlet and more.
If you thought Baz Luhrmann had smoked too much pot behind the tuckshop, wait until you see this rapid-fire tribute for the iGeneration. It's cliché-ridden stuff that tries so hard to be cool it ends up being uncool (or post-cool, perhaps). But as a piece of theatre designed primarily to engage young people it probably succeeds anyway.
The show comes to La Boite's Roundhouse Theatre via the Shake and Stir Theatre Company, the newest professional youth theatre company in south-east Queensland offering theatre-in-education for drama wannabes. Its energetic players - Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee, Francesca Savige and Nick Skubij - all throw themselves into the performance with a communicable appreciation and knowledge of the material.
Lee wrote the piece, which she directs with Balbuziente and Skubij, while designer Carolyn Taylor-Smith uses the open space cleverly over the breathless 75-minutue show. It's impeccably choreographed to embrace the audience on all four sides of the stage, injecting Shakespeare with a bravado and physicality that often draws laughs and certainly commands attention. The Y-geners in the crowd lapped it up, even if this particular X-gener couldn't quite get into the spirit of proceedings.
What I can say about Statespeare is it's certainly a lot more fun than my high school Shakespeare lessons ever were. And that really does deserve credit.
It's, like, totes good.
La Boite Theatre and Shake & Stir Theatreco presents
by Nelle Lee (& William Shakespeare)
Directors Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee, Nick Skubij
Venue: Roundhouse Theatre, Musk Ave. Kelvin Grove Urban Village
Dates: 19 - 29 May 2009