Street Theatre Reviews


The Shakespeare Jukebox team thrives on a challenge. After all, it’s the key to the show, with audience members invited to pick a scene which Buxton Drama League members then pluck from their repertoire for instant performance in the Pavilion Gardens.

But the challenge on their first outing of this Fringe season was greater than ever – with the cast severely depleted 'due to the plague', leaving just three brave female players to carry off the show. ('Someone probably mentioned the Scottish play,' lamented Jayne Marling.) And carry it off they did, in style, from the opening lines of Macbeth’s witches to the finale from Twelfth Night.

Jayne shared the Pavilion Gardens stage with fellow regular Maria Carnegie and newcomer Elyse Marling: making her Jukebox debut with a baptism of fire. All three showed both skill and flair as they rose to the challenge of more than a dozen requested scenes from the playlist on their A-board.

Shakespeare may sound like a pretty dull choice with so much on offer during the Fringe – but not when it’s done by the BDL team! This is live entertainment at its best: the Bard’s original script but with exaggerated speech, comical posturing and melodrama in every step as the actors ham their way through each scene.

At first competing with the nearby Song at Six – whose audience later joined Jukebox crowd – the players seized the challenge... Anthony and Cleopatra, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with the audience instructed to 'imagine the two men'), they triumphed at every turn.

Highlights included Two Gentlemen from Verona, new for this year, with Elyse taking centre stage along with two shoes and a stuffed dog. And The Tempest, with onlookers gleefully swaying in the tumultuous seas and shouting lines on cue. There was more audience participation for a young girl who joined the witches in dancing round the cauldron and a passing dog owner invited to supply the ‘tongue of dog’.

What fun! This institution sums up the spirit of the Fringe – and it takes to the Pavilion Gardens stage again on July 16, 17, 22 and 23 July at 6pm. The show is free, but all donations go to Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.

Lesley Caddy