Shakespeare a la Carte. A Canberra Youth Theatre / Warehouse Circus workshop production directed by Iain Sinclair. Musical director, Pip Branson. Circus director, Karen Yeldon. In Western Courtyard, Gorman House. December 11-14 and 18-21, 2002, 6.30-8.30pm.
Linda McHugh, CYT artistic director, announced at last Wednesday's opening, the establishment of a fund - the Branson Gift - for an annual award to a young theatrical artist working in the tradition of the late David Branson. Takings that night, and from the Viva Branson event at Toast on the same evening, have been donated to start the fund rolling.
The Branson's Gift Fund will be administered by Canberra Community Arts Front. For information and to arrange donations, call Canberra Youth Theatre on 6248 5057.
Meanwhile, the cart, with a convenient arras for stabbing people through, rolled into the acting space which included not only the grassed area - with appropriate gymnastic mats - but also the verandah roof of the Bogong Restaurant and up the tree.
Probably out of the tree would be a better description of this eclectic mix of original Shakespeare with up-to-date parodies in television style. Buffy the Vampire Killer is star-crossed lover Hermia. Steven Irwin captures Caliban, probably the most endangered species in the world. Jamie Oliver shows Titus Andronicus how to cook children.
The a la carte menu includes soup, which audience members can jump into, after an exciting auction, by taking part in a scene. On first night a certain well-known theatrical personality bid, largely against herself, to a winning $25 and became Charlotte the Great Big Heifer who briefly played Polonius and got stabbed in the arras.
Somehow circus jugglers and gymnasts were incorporated, at one point successfully representing Romeo and Juliet on the balcony by tossing a spinning diabolo from one to the other. Some say the young people, ranging from age 8 to 18, directed Iain Sinclair at least as much as he directed them.
This is surely in the Branson celebratory tradition: both iconoclastic and a learning experience. The show's energy will build after first night into an enjoyable mad-cap communal village green entertainment. All that's missing is a bear - but they do have a lion.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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