Pleasance courtyard (Above) 1:05pm – 03/08/2023 – Improvised Rubbish Shakespeare – The Incomplete works – Rubbish Shakespeare Company & Wing it improv

5 stars

Sheldon Chadwick

I confess I have watched this show before in an early outing in Liverpool in 2022 and I was already a fan. I was curious to see what the new cast would bring and hence my trip from Glasgow to the Edinburgh fringe. I am pleased to say that Improvised Rubbish Shakespeare – The Incomplete works is as good as I remember, if not better. This is indeed praise as I had previously rated it five stars in my previous review.

The work is very funny, clever and played throughout with a cheeky glint in the players eyes. The premise is that the company of players are here to perform William Shakespeare’s latest play ‘Cardenio’ – for those who are Bard fans you will know this one of his lost plays. The Bard does not arrive, and the players are left without the text from which to perform. Earlier in the pre-show a member of the audience is bestowed a crown and becomes King James – not a fan of Shakespeare or his work and thus the players must entertain the King or face execution.

Led by Shakespeare’s finest actor Lee Hithersay the company gather a few key ingredients from which they then create a brand-new Shakespeare play. What takes place over the next hour is phenomenal as we meet multiple characters, plots twists and off the cuff humour which would put many a comedy script writer to shame. Set in Glasgow – our play opens with a prologue delivered by the impressive Alexander McDonald who sets up our tale of the tyrant Duke Chris a man who is determined to repress his people, he is immediately booed by the audience.

We meet a lovelorn Prince played by the physically funny Kirst Heitmann who is seeking a bride, a pair of geriatric pirates who reminisce of former glories and are up for one final ‘Pillage’. The watchman played by Robert Bond whose keen eye observes all, and expertly ties many of the threads of the story together. As with much of Shakespeare there are deaths a plenty in this play the mother of Duke Chris has her head removed which means he is finally free of her constant pecking.

Improvised Rubbish Shakespeare – The Incomplete Works is highly skilled; each member of the hilarious ensemble is comfortable in creating both prose and verse spontaneously. They make this look effortless. The use of live music and sound effects provided by the gifted guitarist Danny Bradley aka ‘Duke Box’ creates an impressive additional layer which is seldom seen when comparing it to other work of this nature. I would liken the show to ‘Horrible Histories’ with a dash of the ‘Young Ones’ anarchy, I highly recommend that you catch this show if you can. Conceived and directed by Mark Smith this co-production between Rubbish Shakespeare Company and Wing it Impro is a triumph of improvised theatre.