The Shakespeare Show (Monster Theatre) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Megan Mooney

A speculative quasi-history lesson about Shakespeare takes the stage at Toronto Fringe

Okay, so, the title of this one is actually longer than the above subject heading would suggest. The full title is: The Shakespeare Show: Or, how an illiterate son of a Glover became the Greatest Playwright in the World The show is as fun as the title.

Since the mid 1800s people have been debating who actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays, and there have been several different opinions put forward about several different potential writers. The most common and viable one put forward these days is Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. This play presents us with what that might have looked like.

a bit like a dreary history lesson? Well, it’s not. It’s an irreverent romp. I’m not sure I’ve ever used the word ‘romp’ before, but it just fits this show. There’s two actors playing a ton of different characters. This leads to a number of amusing moments, including actress Tara Travis strangling herself as she plays both the strangler and stranglee.

Don’t worry, you really don’t need to know anything about Shakespeare beyond what you likely studied in high school to enjoy this one. In fact, you don’t even need to have done that. It’s funny no matter what. And, although it’s written in iambic pentameter (kudos to Ryan Gladstone for taking that on when writing the piece), it won’t leave anyone confused the way Shakespeare sometimes can.

Not only did he write it, Gladstone also takes the stage in the role of Shakespeare (among others). His timing and delivery are great throughout, but I have to say, my favourite part what when Gladstone was wielding puppets.

Bottom line is that this is a show that is a ton of fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Really, I have to say, The Shakespeare Show was a fantastic way to start my Toronto Fringe experience.

Details:

Venue 4 Bathurst Street Theatre

60 min.
Wed, June 30 8:45 PM – 402
Sat, July 3 Noon – 413
Sun, July 4 7:00 PM – 423
Mon, July 5 3:00 PM – 427
Wed, July 7 11:00 PM – 444
Fri, July 9 1:45 PM – 453
Sat, July 10 9:15 PM – 464

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows