“All The World’s a Stage and all the men and women merely players”.
With these famous lines the audience at The Beehive last Saturday night (11th June 16) were led into a wonderful celebration of Shakespeare’s life and work. The cast of local actors and singers, performed superbly as they used “the seven ages of man” speech from “As You Like it” as a linking thread to reveal the many sides of Shakespeare’s genius.
Honiton Community College student Jack Haigh, resplendent with top hat and cane, and with an assured stage presence was Master of Ceremonies, introducing each age in turn.
Young students from Stockland Primary school had us laughing at the antics of Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as he tries to allocate parts in a play to the local village blockheads.
The balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet was beautifully played by Amelia Hibbert and Jack as they gave us the age of the lover. Followed by Alex Jackson singing “Something’s Coming” from West Side story and Penelope Moore did a wonderful rendition of “Shall I compare thee…”
Reflecting on how to “kill a wife with kindness” Mike Berenger gave us a marvellous Petruchio from “The Taming of the Shrew” and Amelia Hibbert later appeared as the brow beaten Katherine, (not convinced that shrew was tamed!)
Honiton Community Theatre performed a hilarious reprise of scenes from Twelfth Night, as Malvolio, sporting his yellow stockings and inane grin, falls into a trap laid for him by Maria and Sir Toby Belch.
The age of the soldier had Richard II gloomily asking us to “tell sad stories of the death of kings”; Henry V crying “God for Harry, England and St George” and a hunched Richard III lurching around the stage desperate to give his kingdom for horse.
Lady Macbeth could not cleanse her hands of the blood of King Duncan and Othello’s suspicions were aroused against Desdemona by the malevolent Iago.
It was good to see Wendy Van der Plank take the stage, with Phoebe from “As you like it” and “On sonnet 18” by Wendy Cope commissioned for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
In between each age Karen Bancroft, used her knowledge and enthusiasm for all things Shakespeare to paint a portrait of the seven ages of the man himself down to his death on 23rd April 1616. Other interludes of high quality were provided by the compelling singing and guitar playing of Cole Stacey (half of India Electric, returning to play the Beehive in Sept).
Familiar words and familiar scenes woven seamlessly together created a wonderful tribute to Wonderful Will.
Review by John Burgess