"A Very Happy Shakespearean Birthday"
by Roberto Landi for remotegoat on 11/05/10

As celebrations go, there's no better way to celebrate a playwright than performing extracts from his best and well-known plays on the very space where his career started.

This is what Guerrilla Shakespeare do by bringing Shakespeare to the place where it all begun on the day of his 446th birthday (sort of).

"Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!" is a cleverly put-together mix of well-known Shakespearean monologues, scenes and sonnets performed by a well assorted ensemble of six actors.

The show is presented as a rehearsed reading in which the actors' personalities meet, clash and get together to infuse blood, tears and laughter into the Bard's words. The actors, led by a slightly grumpy director (Jason Catrell) are slowly led towards the Shakespearean universe, using their own personalities as a way to get closer to the characters they will interpret.

The monologues are alternated with biographical information on Shakespeare, hinting at the moments in his life that might have served as inspiration for some of his works.

From "O Romeo" to "We band of brothers", most of the tropes of Shakespeare's works are revisited and rendered in a lively manner, thus creating a good equilibrium between dramatic and comedic moments.

The Rose Theatre - the oldest Elizabethan theatre on the South Bank, London's newest gem - provides the perfect setting for this work and helps conveying the illusion of the performance as being still a work in progress.

Memorable are Walter Van Dyk's Henry V; Dorian Kelly's Launce, from Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Kathryn Ritchie's mad Ophelia.

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