Oddsocks' take on The Tempest is out of this world
The Tempest, Oddsocks Productions, Belgrade Theatre, B2, until June 21.
As a youth, Will Shakespeare was reputedly not averse to a spot of poaching on the deer parks of Stratford.
It's just a hunch, but I have a theory he may have developed a taste there too for poached magic mushrooms.
It could help explain his most magical and mysterious - not to say trippy - play, The Tempest, possibly his last work before putting down his quill.
Heaven knows, the play is difficult enough to fathom in its original form.
Shakespeare set it on a mythical, distant island once ruled by a witch, now home to her son, and Ariel a spirit, and it's refuge for Prospero, ex-Duke of Milan, who washed up on its shores with baby daughter after being betrayed by his brother.
But it's to the heavens that Oddsocks look to for inspiration for the reworking of one of the Bard’s most popular comedies.
Space, the final frontier, in fact. Beamed up by Scotty and Captain Kirk via the Starship Enterprise to the Planet Babel.
The sci-fi spoof continues with guest spots for Star Wars robot C-3PO and Luke Skywalker, and a panto pastiche of the birth scene from Alien.
Driving along the mayhem are a string of rock classics belted out by the six-strong cast - Elizabethan favourites such as Sex on Fire, Final Countdown, and Zoom.
This is the Oddsocks stock-in-trade, of course. A troupe of travelling players let loose to lampoon some of the theatre’s most precious works with a rollocking couple of hours of knockabout fun aimed at destabilising that very preciousness.
It starts from the moment the cast introduce themselves: “Ariel got a very good reception.” And to a young heckler in the audience: “If you wanted to take part in the play you should’ve come to the rehearsals.”
On opening night, school pupils made up a large percentage of the audience, and may the force be with them if this was their first introduction to Shakespeare. Without reading the play first, they wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.
But then there were plenty of visual gags, full-belt songs their parents probably sing in the shower, and perhaps enough Shakespearean verse to hook their curiosity and try to relate this to their studies back in class.
I don’t envy their teacher.
For tickets go to: www.belgrade.co.uk