What do you get if you cross Shakespeare, a pantomime dame, and a comic actor playing on a stage just 19ft by 12ft?
Tony Howes performing his one-man show based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at Bonkers theatre in Kettering, that’s what.
Bonkers theatre in Kettering is small, with a seating capacity of 40 people in four rows. Just as well that Tony managed to squeeze all of his 17 Shakespearian characters into one.
To warm up the audience, Tony opened his show with a gag or two: “When I played a dame in panto I had a bra like Manchester United... All support and no cups!”
He then turned his attention to the play where the drama was to unfold on a set with minimal props – a few branches here, a table and chair there.
Tony delivered a unique showcase of comic characters and impersonations in dialogue that was a blend of traditional Shakespearean English and modern slang.
Some of the characters were played straight. My favourite was Oberon, Fairy King who raged jealously at Titania with believable venom. I also tittered along with the audience at his character impersonations of Geordie Cheryl Cole playing First Fairy and Catherine Tate as Hermia.
I was also amused by Tony’s impersonation of heavyman Ray Winstone as Hermia’s angry father Egeus berating his daughter for not consenting to marry Demetrius. He was played like such a posh fool, her reluctance was hardly surprising.
Tony Howes will be back at Bonkers theatre performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream on October 5. Tickets are £10 available from Bonkers theatre, Kettering.