BRIGHTON FESTIVAL: The Complete Deaths of William Shakespeare

The clown theatre company Spymonkey have enjoyed considerable success in recent years with their unique blend of physical comedy with sharp satire.

Review. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150912-143613001
Review. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150912-143613001

Their 2009 Moby Dick was wonderful and if anything, this work is better.

The performance takes every onstage death in Shakespeare and presents it in a bizarre countdown like some terrible gameshow.

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Each death is handled in a completely different manner, some mere throwaways – they get through Henry VI at a rate of knots – and some are more elaborate.

Richard III’s death is presented as a sex fetish club performance, complete with gasmasks and whips, which was extraordinary, but it was the stunning set-piece of the first half that was Cleopatra’s death that stood out for me.

I shan’t give anything away as you need to see that one for yourself.

There was also lovely subtext to the work as a roving video camera and a huge screen at the back of the stage gave glimpses into spaces the audience don’t usually see in a theatre as we witness the squabbles and unrequited love and glorious self delusion as the clowns create the show live.

The Complete Deaths of William Shakespeare - Performed by Spymonkey - Theatre Royal, Brighton - Saturday 14th May.