Spymonkey's THE COMPLETE DEATHS Crams 74 Shakespearean Demises Into 90 Minutes
Nearly half of the 74 poor souls who lose their lives in Shakespeare's 37 plays were victims of stabbings. A decent chunk of them were beheaded and one was memorably pursued by a bear.
Now audience members can witness all of the above, plus the poisonings, hangings, one memorable snakebite and more in Spymonkey's THE COMPLETE DEATHS, a four-person 90-minute comedy adapted and directed by Tim Crouch, which will be touring the U.K. and internationally during 2016 and '17.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Crouch explains how Shakespeare's contemporary critics didn't approve of the on-stage gore. Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute, says Elizabethan drama was known for being gruesome: "The English drama was notorious for on-stage deaths; they were thought crass. For neo-classical critics, deaths should be off-stage."
"The first history plays are quite rudimentary in how to snuff out a life," says Crouch, "but he has a more sophisticated means of killing people as the plays go on. There is some extraordinarily exquisite stuff, the smothering of Desdemona, Cleopatra putting an asp to her breast, the suicides in Julius Caesar with Brutus asking each of the men individually if they will hold a sword while he runs on to it."
To help keep track, a set of Top Trump-style cards is being produced to accompany the production, ranking each play in terms of fairness, pitiability, gore and final words.
Spymonkey is a physical comedy company based in Brighton and comprising a core creative ensemble of five lead artists: artistic directors Toby Park, Petra Massey and Aitor Basauri, and associate artists Stephan Kreiss and designer Lucy Bradridge. They've been making sublimely hilarious and deeply ridiculous theatre since 1998. Visit spymonkey.co.uk