Upstart Crow – Wonderful Shakespearian silliness
If William Shakespeare knew his name had been taken in vain for a comedy show four hundred-ish years after his death, what would he think about it? The man had a great sense of humour so he'd probably fall about laughing at the antics of David Mitchell, who plays The Bard himself. Would Shakespeare come and see it? You bet he would. It's brilliant.
Ben Elton is bringing his dazzlingly good, critically acclaimed and much loved BBC sitcom to the stage, presenting a brand new comedy play set to delight West End audiences. The show is famous for re-imagining the life of Shakespeare, revealing a complicated and not always enjoyable muddle that constantly beleaguers the great man. Or not so great, as it turns out, since he isn't always the one who dreams up the plots for his plays.
Comedian and TV presenter David Mitchell reprises his TV role on stage, playing the lead role in what is his West End theatre debut. Gemma Whelan plays Kate, the clever daughter of Shakespeare’s landlord. By all accounts Mitchell is thrilled to be able to bring history’s most famous balding dramatist to London, to play a starring role in a comedy that's rich in Shakespearean ambience.
Ben Elton has set the play in 1605, at a time when The Bard is desperately hunting for a decent plot for his next master-work but is thwarted at every turn – as usual – by the kind of ridiculous family problems that see him engaging in a riot of mad metaphor. There's endless confusion provided by identical twins, and an escaped dancing bear called Mrs Whiskers also plays a starring role.
The fun is directed by Sean Foley, and the show opens at the magnificent Gielgud theatre in early February 2020. Ben Elton has long been one of our brightest and funniest stand-up, theatre, TV and literary stars, whose books are known and loved for their laugh-out-loud hilarity. He's responsible for classics like The Young Ones and Blackadder, the hit musical We Will Rock You, the hit musical Love Never Dies and a whole lot more.
The original Upstart Crow TV series was created to help mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The stage show takes us back to 1605, when the only plays he'd come up with were All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. As the show's publicity material says: How the futtock can a Bard be expected to find a plot for a play whilst his daughters run amok and his house is used as refuge for any old waif and stray. As time runs out, can Will hold on to his dream of being recognised now and for all time, as indisputably the greatest writer that ever lived, or will family woes thwart Will’s chances of producing his master-work?
Come along and see!
Who is this show for?
Upstart Crow contains lots of references to Shakespeare's plays plus some 'moderate' bad language, so it isn't really suitable for young children. Over 14s should appreciate the fun.