Bard in the Gardens


It’s Shakespeare – but not as you know it.

Macbeth as a waiter with big aspirations, As You Like It, involving gym gear, and The Taming of the Shrew, set in the middle of a speed dating session.

This is Shakespeare’s greatest hits – Remarkable Theatre style.

The local dramatic society will re-enact 20 scenes.

The majority are from Shakespeare’s well-known plays – including Anthony and Cleopatra, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream – but also from artists inspired by the English playwright – like Brit comic Rowan Atkinson and journo Bernard Levin.

These have been rehashed and given a modern twist, says director Tori Keating. She reckons it’s them paying homage to one of the greatest writers the world has even seen.

Keating has lost count of the hours spent reading, trying to decide what scenes would make the cut.

“It’s taken me a year to pull together and narrowing down the plays was a challenge. You have to look at what scenes are going to suit the actors, the flow of the show and what is going to be most appealing to the audience.”

Shakespeare’s big tragedies are heavy and wouldn’t work – but an audience will react positively to his comedies.

The production, set in Queenstown Gardens, isn’t your typical production. It’s known as promenade theatre.

Basically, there isn’t a stage and each scene moves location. Actors will have costumes – but they use the park’s natural settings, like a park bench or the rotunda. This means the audience is also expected to move.

Keating describes it as a roller-coaster – a modern interpretation on historical classics. She reckons it’s the best way to showcase his work to those who are already familiar with it – and to a new audience.

Why Shakespeare? Because nearly 400 years after his death he is still influencing modern literature, art, dance and comedy.

“Shakespeare really can translate to any particular time and to any issue we are facing today.”

There will be musical elements, too, with one rendition taken from BBC series Horrible Histories. Keating says it’s a programme that has something for everyone.

She can’t pick a clear favourite from his huge catalogue, but reckons it’s between The Tempest and Henry IV – neither of which made the grade for this production.

Remarkable Theatre presents its annual Gardens show, Shakespeare Greatest Hits Volume 400, Queenstown Gardens. January 29, 6pm and 8pm, January 30-31, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. Entry by donation.