The Complete Deaths

The Complete Deaths

Produced and presented by Spymonkey
Adapted and directed by Tim Crouch
Liverpool Playhouse
20th-21st May 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

A main trademark of the Spymonkey company is their clowning prowess and this is in abundance by the four member crew in this play (which also has a lot of camera projections), of all the scripted on-stage deaths in Shakespeare’s entire works – 75 in total – but definitely not Ophelia! They are all played with a variety of comic roles.

You don’t have to have a great awareness of Shakespeare to enjoy the show. This point probably applied to a woman sitting behind me who constantly laughed hysterically at even the most banal sketch. I sat elsewhere following the interval.

What came across to me was the pantomime-like aspect of the show including slapstick, double entendres, silly costumes, etc.

Some of the sketches did go on too long and became tedious.

But there were other times when Spymonkey created a lot of humour from the darkest of subjects – death.

Director Tim Crouch was originally going to include 74, not 75, deaths in the production. But he decided to add the fly that met a sticky end in Titus And Andronicus.

A memorable moment was the viper-breasted-application by Cleopatra (Petra Massey), wearing an exquisite costume. The sketch ended with her doing a belly dance with the other three performers doing likewise.

Another highlight was the back projection of Shakespeare’s animated talking head, which often saw him berate what was taking place before him on stage.

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