Introducing Shakespeare to a young audience is no easy task. Captivate Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival doesn't shy away. With a double offering of Romantic Romeo and Brave Macbeth, the Scotland-based company showcases music, wit and puns to keep adults and children amused. True, there's a lot of creative license on the plot but you get a Shakespearean soliloquy here and there.
Romantic Romeo is the first of the "They Do Not Deserve to Die" series from director Sally Lyall and musical director Tommie Travers. The duo have concocted a hilarious formula to introduce Shakespeare's plots to young 'uns. Plans for Julius Caesar and Hamlet are in the works for next year. The antics and catchy tunes in Romantic Romeo had the young and older members of the audience in stitches, long after the comic moment had passed.
One acting standout was Ross Hunter, as flirtatious transvestite cougar Nursey creepily in love with Romeo. Hunter played his comic role with utmost conviction. Paris, played by Lewis McKenzie, is a sidesplitting caricature of a French toad with freakishly long arms who improvised with uproarious aplomb when he had a costume malfunction. The poison lady, who surreptitiously appears on stage just as Romeo is looking for a remedy to his love troubles, is absolutely mesmerizing in her timing and command of the stage. Too bad she didn't get a credit in the cast list.
One of the major strengths was the music. The riff, Do you Bite Your Thumb, Sir? Yes, I Bite My Thumb, Sir, used to illustrate the rivalry between the Capulets and the Montagues is an unforgettable, marvelous musical score. When the cast sang out crowd favorite ABBA's Dancing Queen, you almost wanted to pull a Mamma Mia, get out of your chair and sing with them. However, the Blues Brothers rendition lacked soul and luster.
Overall, it's a thoroughly enjoyable performance with memorable tunes, well-timed wit, and remarkable performances from the cast.
To go see the show, go to::
Edinburgh Fringe Festival