Shakespeare at its comic best

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, presented by The Pantaloons, Ip-art on the mansion lawn, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Dave Vincent

Headline: Shakespeare on the lawn at its comic best

Twelfth Night, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Those who advocate dropping Shakespeare from schools because it is “too difficult” should think again.

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As long as you are introduced to his plays by inspirational, committed teachers - and there are plenty of those, Shakespeare is fun.

The work of the Bard is still relevant and accessible, thanks to companies like The Pantaloons.

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Performed live it is a chance to enjoy the sheer cleverness and melodic nature of the language in those old plays, which are constantly evolving yet retain so many familiar phrases and speeches.

Young companies like the Pantaloons work the familiar text with a plenty of modern references, Wii, Tony Blair, Britney and the like.

They portrayed his characters to great comic effect and it proved a fine night's entertainment.

The two hours just sped by.

This is Shakespeare up close and personal.

In a formal theatre you can be so far back from the stage in your padded armchairs you feel remote from the action, you might as well be watching TV.

Here the crowd, sitting on blankets and folding chairs, were close enough for the actors to touch and to involve in the show, which they did to good effect.

You could see every facial expression as the characters milked every comic moment

There was loads of audience participation, with even one guy called up to be an understudy for a fight scene!

The cast, Ross, Martin, Rebecca, Mark and Caitlin switched swiftly between their various roles on a set that was little more than a few travelling trunks and a lot of imagination.

This play has many funny roles, Sir Andrew, Malvolio and Sir Toby especially, which were all hilarious.

My favourite was Sir Toby Belch (Ross Drury) with something of Norman Wisdom about him.

And yes, there is a girl dressed as a boy who falls in love with a man while a woman falls in love with her (thinking she is a man), but ends up with her brother.

In Shakespeare's time, the girl would have actually been a boy.

It is much simpler now, isn't it?

n The Pantaloons will be performing Romeo and Juliet, in front of Christchurch Mansion, in a free performance on Sunday July 5 within Ipswich Music Day. It starts at 1 pm.

David Vincent

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