(Andrew Haydon’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/24.)
It’s sometimes said that British theatre is “the envy of the world”. Without wishing to rain on anyone’s parade, this is news to the rest of the world. But, if theatre really is some sort of absurd jealousy contest, it often feels that we Brits can only compete at all for two reasons: 1) the plays of William Shakespeare, and, more surprisingly, 2) the seminal, Sheffield-based experimental theatre group Forced Entertainment.
It seems apt, then, that the company are to bring their idiosyncratic style to bear on all 36 of Shakespeare’s plays in a series of pieces called Complete Works, commissioned by the Foreign Affairs festival in Berlin. “We knew that we wanted to do tabletop versions – basically a set of recountings using everyday objects as the characters,” says Tim Etchells, the company’s artistic director. This means a salt and pepper pot could become the king and queen, a spoon might be turned into a servant and so on. In a teaser trailer, Romeo is a torch and Friar Laurence is a candle. Four of the pieces will be live-streamed at theguardian.com/stage on 28 June, so you can find out how Hamlet, and others, will be represented.