Merely Theatre’s second national tour of genderblind work, Shakespeare’s best loved shows, Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night, comes to London’s Greenwich Theatre next month.
Presented in Merely Theatre’s signature stripped-back style, the plays overflow with energy and urgency, seeking to blow the cobwebs off Shakespeare. Merely’s productions are raucous and joyous, stirring and visceral.
The company’s commitment to gender-blind practice means actors rehearse their five-hand productions in male-female pairs, generating twice the amount of ideas for each role, while halving the rehearsal time for each individual.
A man and a woman play each set of parts alternately across the venues on the tour; a male Juliet, a female Malvolio – any combination is possible.
Artistic director Scott Ellis said: “We’ve done our best to recreate that same atmosphere and attitude from the old rep system.
“The discipline and the technique, the focus. The commitment to making every time we’ve done it the best time we’ve done it.
“We put in the work, we sweat it hard, and out of that pressure cooker come some extraordinary things. It’s an exhilarating way to work.
“We are doing raw, pure Shakespeare, the kind people get swept up in and excited by”.
Cast: Ffion Jones, Robert Myles, Sarah Peachey, Luke Barton, Tamara Astor, Stephen Leask, Emmy Rose, Simon Grujich, Hannah Ellis and David Gerits.
March 28/29, Market Place Theatre, Market Street, Armagh
March 30, Island Arts Centre, The Island, Lisburn
March 31, Down Arts Centre, 2-6 Irish Street, Downpatrick
April 1, The Space Theatre, Castle Park Rd, Bangor, C. Down
April 18–22, Greenwich Theatre, London
May 5, Uppingham Theatre, Uppingham
May 10, The Old Town Hall, High Street, Hemel Hempstead
May 22/23, Lowther Pavilion, West Beach, Lytham St Anne’s
May 24/25, Theatre Royal Wakefield, Drury Lane, Wakefield.