If you’re one of those people who think a Shakespeare comedy isn’t funny, then you’ve clearly never seen one performed by the Propeller Theatre Company.
Recently I had the opportunity to see Propeller’s latest productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night at the Lowry Theatre in Salford and can honestly say that I can’t remember when I had enjoyed theatre so much. The energy and enthusiasm the cast invest into each scene had the audience in stitches from the opening scenes and held them captive until the end.
Propeller is an all-male theatre company formed back in the late 1990s under the direction of Ed Hall. They are renowned for the way in which they bring Shakespeare’s plays to life, offering a very modern take on such stalwart classics, making them both entertaining and enjoyable but also thought-provoking and comparable to society today. This year, their performances of Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew proved no exception. The liveliness and fast-paced delivery of the lines directed to the other performers as well as the audience created an informal atmosphere which drew the audience into each scene.
Once you get used to the language style, it is easy to get caught up in the stories being played out before you. Because of Propeller’s modern approach to each play, you find it easy to relate to the situation and characters and can empathise with them.
In Twelfth Night we see the classic tale of mistaken identities, transformations and deception. It looks at the question of what happens when you fall in love with the wrong person and the answer is often comical and heart wrenching. Having a man play a girl who in the course of the play disguises herself as a boy is also humorous but draws many parallels with situations in society today with people often hiding their sexuality to be accepted by society. The way that Propeller’s male actors portray the female characters is done so cleverly that like the language, once you get used to it, you often forget about the actor as you are so engaged with the character and the play itself - their speech and movement as well as their facial expressions are so true to the female nature. This production was side-splittingly funny at times but also had some very poignant moments and you felt each of these emotions with the main characters.
I would thoroughly recommend seeing Propeller for yourself, not only will it give you a deeper appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare’s work but will keep you entertained and amused for hours. Be warned though, once you have seen them once, you will want to see them again and again. These were the 5th & 6th productions I have seen by Propeller and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one.
Look out also for the cast performing during the intervals of the shows. This year they are raising money for Target Ovarian Cancer and invite donations to be made through their just giving page www.justgiving.com/Propeller13.
For more details of Propeller’s current productions and tour dates see http://propeller.org.uk/current-productions