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REVIEW: THE SHAKESPEARE REVUE New End Theatre

PUBLISHED: 13:40 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:28 07 September 2010

Four star rating Antic Disposition was formed in 2005 and has its base in Camden. The company came to my notice earlier this year when they produced a praiseworthy Richard III at St Stephen s church in Haverstock Hi

THE SHAKESPEARE REVUE

New End Theatre

Four star rating

Antic Disposition was formed in 2005 and has its base in Camden. The company came to my notice earlier this year when they produced a praiseworthy Richard III at St Stephen's church in Haverstock Hill.

The Shakespeare Revue, their first production, was part of the Shakespeare de Quercy Festival in France - and is still going strong.

This revue, by dint of using past and present material written about the Bard, runs the gamut of Shakespearean hilarity from the music hall Shakespeare -To Be Or Not To Be sung to the tune of Lets all Go Down the Strand; via Brahms and Sherrin - the bitter sweet Ladies of London, where four prostitutes mourn the death of Sir John Falstaff; material from Alan Melville and Sandy Wilson - 50s revue numbers of the "madly, madly boring" genre - right to Patrick Barlow's hilariously confused history, "Mary Arden was a famous Stratford cosmetics expert"; Shakespeare masterclass, the Fry and Laurie take on pretentious directors; Maureen Lipman's PC or not PC, mocking the transvestite performances of Fiona Shaw and Mark Rylance (allusions to Titus Androgynous here); and Victoria Wood's glorious amateur producer giving notes on Hamlet: "Drop the Geordie accent, it's just not working."

A special hit is the naughty English lesson adapted from Henry V where Alice teaches her mistress the English words for the parts of the body and invites the audience to join in with the help of a giant song sheet.

My all-time favourite Shakespeare sketch is Peter Pontac's visitor to Elsinore who asks in all innocence, "How is Hamlet?" Pontac is also responsible for the awful contrived punning in Othello in Ernest, which elicits delighted groans from the audience.

Items from Cole Porter, Bernard Levin, Herbert Fargeon and Derek Nimmo make this a worthy tribute to the Bard and it is excellently performed by Helen Evans, Sarah Barron, Matthew Stevens and Nicholas White, with Nicolas Sagar at the piano.

This is a bit of Christmas jollity to be enjoyed by all who know and love Shakespeare while still being accessible to those who don't.

Until December 31.

Aline Waites

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