Theatre: Pocket Comedy  

Apologies for mentioning the ‘dirty lucre’ but how does a school justify taking students out of school to see live theatre as budgets are shrunk and squeezed? One way is to carefully read the small print on flyers and if you see ‘with 40 minutes talkback with the actors’ book directly. Clever Propeller, for as well as offering a wonderfully inventive ‘Pocket’ version of The Comedy of Errors, they also offer this priceless, added extra to your visit. ‘Ask whatever you like,’ the actors said and the young audience members did, from where does the smoke come from? to what does it feel like to play a woman? (Answer: You’re playing a character not a woman.)
The six actors had just finished delivering with aplomb a colourful, fast-paced production of Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity and were now enjoying the chance to share the secrets of their art.
Of course, the one-hour high-energy retelling of this most farcical of Shakespeare’s comedies serves as either a brilliant introduction to the play or an immersion or revision of the plot and characters. However, this audience of youngsters came alive when offered the chance to quiz the six multi-talented actors about ‘anything they liked’.
Propeller is an all-male company under the direction of Edward Hall who doubles as artistic director of Hampstead Theatre. The Pocket series is a condensed version of the company’s full-length production so the players know the story well. The sextet interacted brilliantly with their young audience, with modern visual and verbal reference that was appreciated. I felt the audience was a bit ‘tight’ and seemed bemused to have their theatre served up in this way – from being led to their seats by the actors to joining in a sing-song with the hilarious Pinch.
All the actors were brilliant – not least to cope with the mind-boggling number and extent of costume changes – so it’s buns for tea for Richard Frame, Kelsey Brookfield, Dominic Tighe, Tam Williams, Jason Baughan and Jonathan Livingstone. Simply marvellous.
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