Battle of the Bastards
REVIEW: Battle of the Bastards is what happens
when William Shakespeare meets a charming busker with a zeal to
Christchurch performer David Ladderman has created a funny,
engaging and smart one man show that tells the story of Edmund the
bastard from Shakespeare's play King Lear.
Ladderman hosts the show as a Puckish court jester pricking the
bubble of fear that often surrounds Shakespeare with a grin, a gag
and running commentary.
He sets up the story of how Edmund is plotting to murder and lie
his way to the English throne, then launches into powerful
performances of scenes from King Lear, playing all the roles from
the devious Edmund to his unwitting victims.
Most of the Shakespeare scenes are played straight - with
Ladderman bringing them to life with focus and sincerity - but for
some scenes he brings his busker tricks to bear, pulling audience
members on stage to play parts in one scene and encouraging the
audience to contribute sound effects for the battle scenes.
Between each scene, Ladderman uses his busker patter to briskly
take us through the events of the play.
The result is an entertaining and unpretentious piece of
annotated panto Shakespeare.
But you never feel Ladderman is taking cheap shots at the
material. Instead, he is using his natural busker populism to
persuade the audience to love Shakespeare as much as he does.
To this end, Shakespeare is recast as a fast-moving Hollywood
blockbuster, complete with the suggested casting of Russell Crowe
and Hugh Grant in two key roles. And Shakespeare as blockbuster is
not that much of a stretch, since he wrote the populist hits of his
day - full of murder, intrigue and skullduggery.
While it can sometimes feels like Ladderman is unnecessarily
apologising for Shakespeare, the power and sincerity of his
performance in the King Lear scenes gives away his underlying
respect for this material.
And it's interesting that a street performer should retool King
Lear to focus, not on the powerful main character, but on Edmund,
the outsider forced to prosper on his wits alone.
Battle of the Bastards is a Christchurch performer taking that
brave leap to the next level of his career. It is a thrilling
of the Bastards
The Tea Cup Tent, North Hagley Park
Every night at 9.30pm
Battle of the Bastards
© Fairfax NZ News