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EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: SHAKESPEARE! THE PANTO, theSpace on the Mile

EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: SHAKESPEARE! THE PANTO, theSpace on the Mile

EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: SHAKESPEARE! THE PANTO, theSpace on the Mile The plays of Shakespeare and the cherished British pantomime have plenty in common. Both have lots of cross-dressing, iconic dastardly villains and mildly smutty humour. Smashing the two theatrical styles together appears to be a match made in heaven.

In Shakespeare! The Panto, the Bard of Avon and his sidekick Bottom have noticed the popularity of pantomime, and despite the playwright's creative objections, see it as a way to overcome his writer's block. With some of the best-known characters in theatre popping up as they attempt to get their show on the road, hilarity ensues - or so the intention runs.

Unfortunately, despite the potential of the concept, this production from University of Bristol Pantomime Society is rather messy. It gives the impression of having been created during a late-night student flat gathering, with everyone throwing ideas into the pot that unfortunately are less hilarious in the light of day, and lack any sense of editing to save the production from a dramaturgical mess.

Rather than trying to weave a coherent narrative, scenes are thrown in at random, as if the production was approached with a checklist of elements of both theatre forms that must be shoehorned in at all costs. Frustratingly, the show also completely misses the difference between the innocently played innuendo that delights in pantos and downright crassness.

The cast attack the piece with plenty of energy, particularly in the occasionally amusing song parodies, but the characters are all so obnoxiously unlikable that they struggle to overcome the material. There are occasional appropriately groan-worthy panto puns, and those who love to pat themselves on the back for recognising a Shakespeare quote out of context will find plenty here, but is Shakespeare! The Panto a must-see? Oh no it isn't.

Shakespeare! The Panto is at TheSpace on the Mile until 17 August (not 11).

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