BRIGHTON FESTIVAL: The Complete Deaths of William Shakespeare

Review. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150912-143613001

Review. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150912-143613001

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

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.

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.