Tragedy, romance, comedy, murder and intrigue last night’s performance of Shakespeare on Trial had it all! The wordsmith himself would have been extremely proud of the Junior Forms who delivered a play fit for a queen…or king!
The evening’s entertainment began with solo performances (Tudor style) from Evie Schmidt-Martin, Hugo Brookes-Hughes and Bo Davidson, setting the scene for the imminent trial.
The audience were then transported to a celestial court room where three bewigged judges challenged the value of Shakespeare’s work, accusing it of being boring, outdated and complicated. Defended by the brilliant Balthazar, (Emma Stevens) Shakespeare counter-argued using characters, facts and scenes from a variety of his well-known plays and sonnets. There were shouts from the gallery (authentic Shakespearean insults) as the judges tirelessly questioned the confident Shakespeare.
Challenged for his lack of drama Shakespeare used The Merchant of Venice as an example of theatrical suspense, whilst A Midsummer Night’s Dream demonstrated magic and comedy. The murder and deceit of Macbeth reassured the audience that Shakespeare’s plays were far from dull and Queen Elizabeth l endorsed Will Shakespeare as the Royal playwright. There were even testimonials from some of Shakespeare’s friends; Francis Meres and Robert Greene.
The youngest members of the Junior Forms entertained with some brilliant songs, from Blood, Guts and Gore, to Boys will be Girls and Amongst Others. Whilst the hilarious usher (Taylor Shepherd) kept score with the extremely glittery boreometer!
Brilliant staging pulled the audience into the drama and the costumes were flamboyant and fabulous, even the musicians and stage hands were suitably dressed as Tudor courtiers. However, performing difficult language and witty one liners with brilliant comedic timing it was certainly the children who were the stars.
Lynne Lawrence, Director of Drama said, “Pupils discovered so much about Elizabethan theatre and life whilst rehearsing this performance. They also learnt about Shakespeare, not only who he was, when and where he lived but about the plays he wrote and why he is so revered. The children understood how acting Shakespeare’s plays brought them to life as they were always intended for the stage not as academic texts. I think many will be inspired to go to the theatre and see some of his work for themselves.”
Abigail who played Shakespeare said, “I was so nervous, there were so many lines to learn. However, it was such good fun. I loved my little bell, which I got to ping every time someone said one of Shakespeare’s famous lines, such as; Off with his head, Into thin air…and forever and a day.”
This production was a BBC play by Michael Colman with Music by Barry Gibson, Tim McVittie, Sam Lake and Andy Kane.