C venues C cubed, Edinburgh – until 24 August 2016
Reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Shamelessly broad and totally daft, Bob, Gin and Tonic Productions’ parodic take on Shakespeare at C Cubed, is decidedly hit-and-miss. However, it has enough enjoyment and anarchic humour to more than pass muster.
Presented as a ‘lost Shakespeare play’, the story of Lord Bob is essentially Macbeth, supposedly set in Finland, with various other Shakespeare references thrown in almost at random. Many things about this make the heart sink – jokes about flat-pack furniture, ‘comedy’ Swedish accents, newsreaders used for exposition, female impersonators uncannily close to Monty Python’s ‘pepperpots’ of nearly half a century ago – and indeed the whole idea of yet another ‘Shakespeare parody’.
Yet there are other things about it that are somewhere close to genius. The dignified pathos of Patrick Wilmott’s Bob anchors things in the real world, while Esmee Cook’s Lady Bob benefits from her instincts about when to rein in the comedy, making it more plausible than many a genuine Lady Macbeth.
No such inhibitions about Sian Davies and George Prove’s squawking nun-assassins or Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller’s Wise Man, all of which provide big laughs. And most extraordinary of all, Ben Horner’s performance in a dual role that combines the functions of Duncan, Malcolm and Macduff. Sporting an injured arm that is deftly worked into the story, he at times seems to lose his grip not only on the part but on reality itself, working himself up into a comic frenzy that is either brilliant or terrible (and very possibly both at once) but is certainly worth seeing.
A scattergun approach holds sway. So much is packed in that the jokes which fall flat can easily be forgiven. What seem to be asides are often the funniest moments – a throwaway topical reference has more impact than carefully worked out routines where the timing is not always exact.
When it is closest to anarchy is when it is most pleasing. Shakespeare can certainly survive a kicking far worse than this, and there is a lot of fun to be had.
Running time: 50 minutes (no interval)
C venues – C cubed (Venue 50), Celtic Lodge, Brodie’s Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile, EH1 2PS
Saturday 6 – Wednesday 24 August 2016
Daily at 8.20 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bob
Company website: https://ginandtonicproductions.wordpress.com