Shakespeare for Breakfast is a long-standing Fringe tradition. If you manage to drag yourself out of bed in time to get to this 10am show, you are rewarded with complimentary coffee (or orange juice or tea) and croissant as well as an hour of very funny Bard-inspired madness. Put on by C Venues’ in-house theatre producing company C Theatre, it’s great fun and certainly worth the early rise.
This year, Shakespeare for Breakfast presents a rather bizarre take on Macbeth. The Scottish play is transported from Scotland to a Surrey village, the royal household becomes the gardening club there. Macbeth, whose name those onstage dare not say (we hear casualties occurring backstage every time their tongues do slip), becomes McGary, who is driven to kill gardening club president Duncan by his Waitrose-worshipping, annoyingly middle class wife Linda. The witches are sassy, Banquo (or rather, Barry) is nerdy and the servants are represented by a PhD-educated Polish cleaner. The characters speak in hilarious cod-Shakespearean verse, complete with soliloquies and quotes from Romeo and Juliet.
The cast give excellent performances, managing to truly commit to their characters despite the silliness of what they are saying. True, the vegetable-related jokes do grow tired after a while, and yes, the characterisations are thin and stereotypical, but this show is meant to be loud and light-hearted, and it’s altogether enjoyable. At times, sharp observations on contemporary culture are thrown in, but these tend to jar with the Shakespeare and one is left with the impression that the show is perhaps trying to fit too much into one hour.
It seemed that the early morning audience was greatly enjoying this tale of murders, mayhem and marrow-related humour, and I would recommend it as an energetic start to a day of theatre-going. One might wonder whether it would do as well without the advantages of a fan-base, free food and the novelty of the early time-slot, but it’s still a well-crafted and funny show that offers a fresh and unusual take a theatrical classics.
Shakespeare for Breakfast is playing at C Venues until August 28. For more information and tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/shakespeare-for-breakfast