For some, the prospect of untangling Shakespearean verse at 10:00 in the morning can only be made palatable with the allure of free coffee and croissants. (Spoiler, the croissants are definitely not what makes this show worth seeing.) However, thisrewritten rendition of The Taming of the Shrew proved to be about as light and airy as the classic French pastry which greets each playgoer upon arrival. Now in its 27thconsecutive year, Shakespeare for Breakfast remains a tried and true recipe that can feed a hungry crowd, suitable for both acolytes and neophytes of the Bard, and even vegans – well, maybe just coffee for them. Still, the laughs are what power this show and make it completely accessible to all.
Undoubtedly apt in the political climate of 2018, the C theatre group has whipped up a modern twist on The Taming of the Shrew, one which upbraids the misogynistic gender binary preserved in this Elizabethan tale. When the quartet of a cast mishears the title as shoe, a playful, laugh-in-spite of yourself barrage of pedal puns ensues as the raucous audience engages with the actors on stage, often completing the rhymes and banter, or even jumping up on stage to help fill the occasional role.
The overall experience is highly interactive and certainly does more to wake you up than the cup of coffee atthe door. There are clever one-liners and Shakespeare pop-culture references sprinkled throughout – the Barenaked Ladies rap lifted from the ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ soundtrack is particularly entertaining and the ending wraps up with a poppy song and dance routine to ‘Grease’s’ ‘You’re the One that I Want.’ Through the light hearted mood of the script, the ensemble points out the obvious examples of disrespect towards women present in the original story, but in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy.
The acting is strong and poised, yet the cast never takes itself too seriously, often going off script to adlib with impressive clarity and making intentionally sloppy costume changes just off stage. While many Shakespearean references are made, it never feels esoteric, and even amateurs can participate in the wordplay. Both cast and crowd is all too aware of the silliness of the script, which quite frankly stays true to the nature of the Fringe, a little weird, a lot of fun. It’s no surprise that this lively act is a sell-out year after year, and based on this morning, it’s sure to have many future shoe-ings.
Shakespeare for Breakfast
August 18 – 27
C Venues – C (Venue 34)
Image credit: Shakespeare for Breakfast