THE maverick Propeller theatre company would probably be the first to agree Shakespeare has had some ill-fated makeovers. But few tackle the Bard's creations with as much gusto and off piste vision.
For the Stratford one's shortest play we get a Spanish setting with graffiti-flanked streets and a 14-strong cast who pop up in various guises, including sombrero-hatted, football shirt clad, Aviator-wearing musicians who provide everything from sound effects – notably every time the gold chain or a pair of leather trousers appear – and song, as well as curious onlookers.
The story of a two sets of estranged twins and their merchant father decreed to die by the Duke unless he can meet the city's financial entry criteria, under Propeller it takes on an even more farcical gait not least because the all-male cast means a spot of outrageous cross-dressing amid the mistaken identity, mishaps, puns and word play.
During the interval of this premire performance the same cast was to be found harmonising some unlikely pop songs on the stairs beside the bars. On stage they were dragging Shakespeare kicking and singing into the 21st century under the refreshing direction of Ed Hall in a way that doesn't meddle with the text but messes with and enhances our perception.
Performances across the board are so fragrant and alive it seems unfair to single one person out, but I do urge you to look out for the OTT northern evangelist with his canny local references.
This spirited, occasionally slapstick behaviour, complete with wheelie-bin jails, continues until Saturday and again on Jan 27/28. See how Propeller handle Richard III from Tuesday.
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