The Complete Deaths

May 20-21
on tour until October 1

The Complete Deaths

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

3*

Put 2 and 2 together, and what have you got? Well, if that were 75 + 4, a whole better deal because you end up with ‘The Complete Deaths’ (Ie in Shakespeare’s plays) and renowned troupe, Spymonkey. Plus, you get even more for your money because the play within the play as it were,

centres on internicene squabbling, the fourth wall not so much broken as demolished: the audience is harangued and appealed to, turn by turn. Then there’s the use of video which highlights many scenes, and not always in a good way with some of the startling views backstage…

Settings, props and costume are all inventive, particularly the latter – frequently eye-catching to say the least, if a little weird à la Antony and Cleopatra where gloved arms make realistic asps, but snake costumes with what appear to be ears. On the other hand, Richard III’s punk horses dancing around worked really well, as did the other song and dance routines.

Yes, they all work their asses off: Aitor Basauri, Petra Massey, Toby Park and Stephan Kreiss , even if there is the occasional laziness; no prizes for guessing what happens to that old bore Polonius. But for most of the time, you certainly have no idea at all about what’s going to happen next. If your main concern was ‘Titus Andronicus’, have no fear because that provides perhaps the most incredible farce of the entire evening.

Being described as ‘the greatest clowns in British theatre’ is quite some compliment, although clowning is not always to everybody’s taste, to the extent occasionally of almost inciting paranoia. So I have to say, not really my cup of tea, but then, neither was Monty Python and here, similar antics, routines, visuals etc descend from the surreal into utter chaos. But fair play, according to a review in The Times: ‘Some people will never ‘get’ Spymonkey. That is their loss.’, But not for this audience, who absolutely loved them so that most scenes resulted in gales of hysterical laughter.

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