Liverpool Shakespeare Festival 2012

If you’re still with me, please stay a little bit longer while we talk about the Bard. The wonderful Lodestar Theatre Company has taken up residency at the newly refurbished Royal Court Theatre with a double bill of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Lodestar are Liverpool based and bring with them a very feisty, hip-and-happening, kick-ass quality to their performances.

I’m very often frustrated when people shy away from Shakespeare because they fear the language or feel that it’s maybe a bit highbrow.  Well, let’s put that to bed now.  Lodestar’s performances bring Shakespeare’s work bang up to date – they’re singing Carly Rae Jepson at one point – and make it so, so accessible, that these plays are possibly the easiest ways to ease yourself into the Bard if you’re a bit new or a bit wary.

Macbeth has long been one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and here it is given a modern, Liverpool twist to bring it up to date.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is given an early 90s rave feel, while maintaining the dreamlike quality at the heart of the piece as well as some of the biggest belly laughs I’ve had for years.

The Royal Court stalls: felt weird at first, turned out to be brilliant

I should also mention the Royal Court as a venue.  This was my first time back with the old place since it’s been restored and at first glance I was slightly disturbed by what they’d done inside.  The traditional stalls have been replaced with the kind of seating you’d generally find in a bingo hall or at a dog track, where they serve you scampi and chips or chicken-in-a-basket.  I didn’t like it.  And then the performance began and I saw what they meant to achieve.

The seating lent itself to a relaxed atmosphere, where a party of school kids could comfortably enjoy the show and the older among us can even have a nice, grown up drink while we watched the brilliant performance on stage. The seating plan also meant that, rather than sit as an audience usually does, facing forward in rows, we were interacting with each other with laughs and nods of approval.

So get yourself down to the Royal Court and discover a treat.  This is a perfect example of a great performance in a great venue with a great audience.

The Shakespeare Festival runs until 13 October 2012.  Tickets from the Royal Court.

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