• Storytelling
  • By Forced Entertainment
  • Performances by: Terry O’Connor, Robin Arthur, Claire Marshall
  • Barbican Centre, London
  • Until 6 March 2016
  • Review by Sophie Heatley
  • 6 March 2016
Tabletop Shakespeare: Twelfth Night / The Taming of the Shrew
4.0Reviewer's Rating

When I settled down to watch a tabletop rendition of Shakespeare, I didn’t really know what to expect. Forced Entertainment are known for their experimental theatre. However, for me, the idea of using kitchen utensils and other miscellaneous household tools and food items to act out some of the greatest theatrical feats of all time was somewhat puzzling. I mean, first and foremost, I wonder how pleased Shakespeare would be, knowing his masterpieces were being reduced to dinnertime table condiments?

Nevertheless, I tried to be open-minded. So there I was, faced with a table and a chair, a small cardboard sign propped up with Twelfth Night and then later on The Taming of the Shrew written across, surrounded by what appeared to be some sort of garage workshop. A little to my surprise, within seconds of the first performance, Twelfth Night, the audience was captivated. The same can be said for The Taming of the Shrew.

They were clever, witty and original. The attempt to make spray cans of what looked like an insect repellent of some sort fall in love with a canister of vanish was greeted with plenty of laughs. It also has to be said that it takes an astonishing amount of skill for one person to keep an audience engaged with table condiments for an entire hour. It was refreshing to see something so different.

Whilst I had the impression that I was watching an episode of ‘Shakespeare for dummies’, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Forced Entertainment, having daringly shaken up traditional approaches to theatre and performance, make for playful and thought-provoking works. They have stripped down theatrical production to expose what the text is really all about. The company did a superb job of making Shakespearian plays, pieces that can be quite difficult to grasp, accessible to all.

About The Author

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Sophie is a second year French with English student at King's College London. She has a particular interest in French literature and anything to do with identity and the self. She is very open minded when it comes to theatrical productions, but does have a soft spot for Beckett and Pinter. In her spare time, you will either find her climbing at her local bouldering centre, cooking or looking for the latest London coffee shop.


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