Following a series of multi-award-winning online plays throughout the pandemic, the Northern Comedy Theatre Company has adapted its much-loved Doing Shakespeare for the stage and is bringing it to London next week, starring Coronation Street‘s Steven Arnold.
Written by David Spicer and directed by Shaun Chambers, Doing Shakespeare has a strictly limited season at London’s Bridewell Theatre, running from 1 to 13 November 2021, with a press night on Tuesday 2 November and a post-show Q&A chaired by MyTheatreMates founder Terri Paddock on Saturday 6 November.
Doing Shakespeare follows fictional company The Felching Players as they agree to stage a Shakespeare play but don’t think to agree on which one should be (or not to be) before chaos ensues.
Six actors performing six different plays will do Shakespeare as Shakespeare has never been done before – a hilariously mad Shakespearean mash-up that will have you rolling in the aisles and the Bard turning in his grave.
Steven Arnold, best known for his fifteen-year stint on Coronation Street as Ashley Peacock, joins the company in the farcical fusion of Shakespeare’s classics. The six-strong ast also features Natasha Agarwal, Kathryn Chambers, Vikki Earle, Farron Ronan, Connor Simkins and Robert Stuart-Hudson.
The Northern Comedy Theatre originally produced the Doing series of Zoom-based online performances at the start of the March 2020 lockdown, with titles such as Doing Whodunnit and Doing The Book Club, as well as Doing Shakespeare, earning them six OnComms awards and a special ONEOFF award from The Offies.
Writer David Spicer said: “I’ve always loved the fun of Shakespeare. During lockdown, laughter was really important. I wrote Doing Shakespeare as an online zoom play to stop us all going a bit mad, but Zoom has plenty of limitations.
“When you’re doing comedy, it’s all about timing, and Zoom buffering is a disaster for live comedy. When our producer, Shaun, wanted to do it onstage, I felt released. It hadn’t been written for the stage, but it feels like it’s coming to where it always should have been.
“Because we’re actually live, there’s a huge logic problem in ‘why do all these idiots think they’re doing a different play?’. The answer lies in Shakespeare itself – in Shakespearean times, they never rehearsed – they’d meet an hour or two beforehand, work out their entrances and then just do it.
“That’s what this group are doing. They’ve decided to do it as Shakespeare would do it. The performances would have been rough and ready. I hope people come along and have fun – if they think they don’t like Shakespeare, this is definitely the show for them.”
About Northern Comedy Theatre
An award-winning fringe production company specialising in comedy and farce, Northern Comedy Theatre were formed in Merseyside in 2015 with the aim of cheering up audiences.
The company has established itself as a trailblazer in the field of online theatre. With the closure of theatres in March 2020, rather than just see the pandemic as a hindrance, Northern Comedy Theatre embraced the opportunities presented by taking themselves online, exploiting Zoom as a platform, and produced a stream of work of no fewer than seven new online plays.
Collaborating with writer David Spicer, each new piece was specially written for this new medium, each one pushing the boundaries of what was possible. Their work has been recognised with six ONCOMM awards and a special ONE OFF award from OffWestEnd, in recognition of their achievements in online theatre.
Work continues offline as well. Northern Comedy’s adaptation of the Doing series follows their premiere of All Above Board written by British comedy legend Nigel Planer, which toured in summer 2021.