Voodoo Macbeth with mums on

24th July 1998 at 01:00
Drama on the Fringe. Edingburgh Festival

Watch Shakespeare. Eat Shakespeare. Dream Shakespeare. Then you can meet Shakespeare, meet Shakespeare's women, meet Shakespeare's mums. The Bard of Avon is omnipresent at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he is being both venerated and ventilated.

There are, for example, five productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, including two youth theatre ones, by Leicestershire Youth Arts (at St Ann's Community Centre) and Gresham Youth Theatre (at The Garage Theatre), as well as a musical adaptation for children under the auspices of the Gilded Balloon at the Palladium.

Hamlet pops up to prevaricate at least four times. He is in traditional garb with Big Spirit Theatre Company. But at Venue 123, in a production suitable for children, he appears as Hamlet the Dithering Dane, while at Theatre Workshop he becomes Hamlet in the Mirror, a show which reflects on religion and sex. From Canada comes Clayton Jevne, who will perform a One-Man Hamlet at Roman Eagle Lodge in a mere hour.

Shakespeare for Breakfast offers free coffee and croissants at Over-Seas House with a 10am show for those who "know Shakespeare forwards, backwards, or not at all". At the same venue you can meet Shakespeare's Women in a play of that title which asks us to eavesdrop on Juliet, Desdemona, Cleopatra and Beatrice who talk about men, love, sex and violence, all of which leads to "a tense confrontation with Shakespeare himself".

At Roman Eagle Lodge, actorpoet Joanne Joseph romps through the bard's works looking for mothers, in the show Shakespeare's Mums, which parades its virtues as "poignant, silly, vicious and desperate" - with an added footnote telling us "Americans now can do Shakespeare with the best of them". Don't say you weren't warned.

There are three Macbeths on the loose this year, each as unconventional as the other. Frantic Redhead Productions are pursuing the weird sisters' prophecies through the wynds and closes of the Royal Mile in "a theatrical walking excursion". Theatre du Sycomore offer the Scottish play in French (along with Le Roi Lear) at Roman Eagle Lodge - in this version there are three Lady Macbeths for good measure. And at St Columba's by the Castle, K.486 offer a voodoosamba Macbeth, where blasted heath becomes fettered jungle as we "sink inside the occult world". It sounds like the Aleister Crowley version.

The monarch in Henry IV (Part One) is being led astray at the Gilded Balloon, while Othello struts his stuff at The Pleasance in a studio performance suitable for 13 years plus. But tops for strutting your stuff might well be Shakespeare D'Good Stuff, in which two punk kids from Noo Yoik City present their favourite bits of the bard. With 12 back-up performers "d'pair interrupt and inturpret d'good stuff from Shrew, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet". Cool, or what?

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