Street Theatre Reviews


Opera House Forecourt

If you are a fan of Shakespeare and would appreciate a condensed way in which to celebrate his 400th anniversary, then this is a show for you. 15 scenes from the great Bard in one hour, and you get to choose them! It is a bit like the concept of a musical jukebox, for those with long memories. The first Shakespeare Jukebox was started in 2005 by Gerard Crawshaw, who invited audiences to select extracts of Shakespeare from a list, for a donation to charities. In the words of a contemporary player, ‘you pick a scene from Shakespeare, we ruin it!’

This night’s players were Maria and Robbie Carnegie, Paul Harrison, Dick Silson and Jayne Marling. The players introduced their pieces briefly, chased their wind-propelled props (hats, especially the hats!) around the forecourt, and launched into very entertaining five minute extracts.

And what variety! All 5 actors performed splendid renditions of many works, the versatile cast changing facial expressions, roles, costumes as often as the wind.

The beauty of such an undertaking is that every performance will be different -after all, you, the audience, choose the material! For what it is worth, I was particularly impressed with the excruciating facial expressions of Paul Harrison, the enthusiastic efforts for audience participation on behalf of Maria Carnegie and Dick Silson, the change in emotions in two consecutive pieces by Jayne Marling, and the more than convincing Toby Belch of Robbie Carnegie.

The performance contained a few surprises. Without giving too much away, you can expect to see several actors represent one character, or perhaps vice versa. Perhaps even four witches? If a piece is performed a few times, it will be different each time.

I found that visually stimulating, sometimes farcical pieces – hence, perhaps, the popularity of scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – worked better than the more static monologues, but you may disagree and choose otherwise. In any event, be prepared for a hilarious finale to the Mechanicals scene of that play. Another favourite was the scene from King Lear, the body language of each daughter belying her words while the deluded king slowly seethed before erupting. My favourite line? The double-edged ‘Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.’ Yes, from that play! I might try and use it some time.

The Shakespeare Jukebox is on again this coming Tuesday (12th), then on the 14th - 16th, 19th, 21st – 23rd July. Free, and highly recommended!

Ian Hamilton


'Who the f**k is Paulo Ferrari?' we old hand and seasoned pro when it comes to street theatre, Paulo is a regular on the London circuit, often performing in Covent Garden to huge crowds of all ages, shapes and sizes. So arriving at half three to discover a crowd of 10 hovering around the star of this one man show, Buxton felt a long way from the world of London's 'Covie G'.

Street theatre is very much a lottery; from the performer to it's audience, and his audience were proof of it. The majority were children, dead set on ruining both one man and his dog with the odd adult trying their very best to support Mr Ferrari and silence the terror squad - tough crowd doesn't quite cut it! But rather than fight petulance with fire this was a chance for Mr Ferrari to show his true professionalism, engaging with the audience and eventually bringing his nemesis (in the form of a 12 year old boy called Callum) in on the act, thus distracting the Brady bunch from destroying the party for everyone else and allowing the crowd to grow and warm to this comedy extrovert.

With a cocktail of playful, slapstick gags and abstract wacky material, all delivered in an erratic yet articulate fashion, he entertained throughout. Whilst nullifying the hecklers he constantly pushed the boundaries of audience participation, accosting adults on mobility scooters asking if it's possible to 'soup up that badboy?' and telling women that 'the flashing of boobs was not allowed during the show'. All with the wit and confidence of an experienced and perfected street artist. With 2 more shows this week, if you are looking for a half hour of humour and surprise then this show is for you. 'Who the F**k is Paulo Ferrari will be performed at The Cheshire Cheese Pub on the 15th and 16th of this month.

Tom Carter