Shakespeare's Avengers Assembleth: Age of Oberon

When William Shakespeare is kidnapped by Oberon, the fairy king, it is up to his team of Avengers to rescue him and keep Oberon from re-writing his plays (and the sonnets. Especially the sonnets). 

To see, or not to see? What a silly question.

Sound crazy? It is. It is also ridiculously funny, from the crossovers (Brutus and Lady Macbeth comparing bloody hands, Romeo and Ophelia commiserating together over the difficulties of their relationships) to the pop culture references, as well as the myriad of references to other plays in the Shakespeare canon. 

Some of these were more obscure than others but they were still incredibly funny, so it won’t matter if you only know one Shakespeare play or all thirty seven; you will find something to amuse you in Drake’s Drummers Theatre Company’s original, well crafted, wonderfully silly script. Whether it’s a clever sequence in which Oberon dictates the characters’ actions in the forest, or the use of great stage business, like Brutus cleaning his nails with a dagger, there is a constant sense of energy and movement throughout the play, even in its quieter, more reflective moments.

The play’s youthful cast is as much the reason for such a great feeling of energy and vivacity as the script. The Avengers, consisting of Puck, Brutus, Lady Macbeth, Hamlet, Ophelia and Romeo, work brilliantly as a team, as actors if not as characters, and are consistently grouped in ways that allow for some excellent comedic moments. Indeed, some of the lines provoked such a loud laugh from the audience that it looked as though some of the cast were about to laugh as well, but for me this only added to the humour and quirkiness of the show, which, although it is based on Shakespeare’s plays, does not take itself as seriously as academics might wish.

The fact that Oberon says the RSC’s Complete Works of Shakespeare was “gobbledegook” before he translated it is testament to that. Shakespeare’s Avengers Assembleth does ask some interesting questions amidst its humour, however; Shakespeare states that theatre is not meant to be entertaining but it “makes you look at yourself and change your life”, and the notion of characters gaining self-awareness and understanding of their role as creations forms a big part of the play’s overall narrative arc. 

As well as this, the play does not shy away from brief instances of swearing and even a couple of topical political jokes, but these only serve to heighten the humour of the play; the very idea of Ophelia swearing, let alone seeing it happen onstage, would be enough of a cause for mirth.

To see, or not to see? What a silly question.

Reviews by Catriona Scott

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★★★★
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★★★★
C venues - C

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★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

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★★★
Sweet Grassmarket

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★★★★★

Performances

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The Blurb

Ever wondered what would happen if Shakespeare was kidnapped by a crazed fairy king in an enchanted forest? Well, wonder no more. Shakespeare's greatest characters must band together in a new look avengers roster. With the fate of the Bard and his mystical infinity quill in the balance, can Shakespeare's heroes put aside their differences and save their creator from the evil machinations of Oberon, Lord of Midsummer? Following their breakthrough 2014 fringe, Drake's Drummers are delighted to bring their new comedy to Edfringe 2015. Previous praise: Shakespeare's Avengers Assembleth, 2014, **** (BroadwayBaby.com).