Shake It Up

The Improvised Shakespeare Show 23 May 2023 - 25 May 2023

Shakespeare hasn’t written anything new for an age, so we thought we would give him a hand…Using his language, your audience suggestions and our overactive imaginations, ShakeItUp create a brand-new Shakespeare play live on stage, complete with live music, songs and plenty of laughs. 

Pick your authentic Shakespearean genre: Epic History, Romantic Comedy, or Gruesome Tragedy; choose the location of where we will lay our scene, our hero’s name, and even their day-job! Pen your wittiest Shakespearean line for our brave actors to pull from their suitably-Shakespearean breeches when they need a helping hand – the twist? They’ll have no idea what the line will be before they say it! 

Then sit back and watch the hilarity unfold in a totally authentic (and totally bonkers) play that Willy Shakes himself would be proud of. Expect big laughs, high drama, and a healthy dose of rhyming couplets.

Quick witted, inexhaustible and absolutely hysterical.”
London Theatre Reviews

Laugh out-loud hilarious […] a great night out
Broadway World

“An authentic, if strange, work of Shakespeare”
Upper Circle

“Alas I wishe I had written this myselffe”
Christopher Marlowe

Review by Jenni Balow

Brian and Ophelia, Orsino and Fiona, along with a duke turned doctor, found themselves irretrievably thrown together in a Shakespearean tragedy of their own making at the Minack Theatre.

The play was set between the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading, and the end of the M4, and the text featured concerns about up and down escalators running at different speeds, the line managers of 17th century England, and several murders. It was a tragedy, after all.

Make what you will of all that -  the Shake It Up actors and musicians from London, who are currently touring their Shakespeare improv show, are dab hands at it.

Dressed in fetching Tudor costumes and speaking in Old English, sometimes with north country accents, they don't know what they're doing, until each audience choses an epic history, comedy or tragedy plotline, the location, and the names of their heroes.

Thus, each story is very different, and the performance I watched was very much determined by a cheering gallery of kids from Birch Copse School in Reading, who didn't hold back when the actors invited ideas.

Shake It Up was formed five years ago by actors James Dart, artistic director, his assistant Joe Prestwich,  Abigail Clay, producer, James Alston, Rebecca Gibbs, Fred di Rosa, and Caleb Mitchell, Silvia Manazzone, design and costumes, Edward Kaye and Rose Trustman, musical directors.

They all perform as required, but at my show, the musicians, with clarinet, guitar and a bugle that heralded the start of the action, were sadly not given much of a chance to play, despite eagerly watching for cues  -  give them a regular song, for goodness sake.

All of the actors picked genuine Shakespearean lines to insert when they chose to, which were guanteed to add to the entertainment, but otherwise there was little structure, which is the nature of improv.

Apart from a seemingly 'rehearsed' piece of fun, conjuring with an imaginary stick, they could just sneak in some tried and tested lines and action to give the performance a boost, if things start to flag.

Not that the visiting youngsters from Birch Copse found anything lacking  -  they were thrilled with the entertainment and the chance to watch live acting on the stage of the world famous open air theatre.