Review: Migrant Shakespeare (online)

In a half-hour presentation streaming at the Brighton Fringe, some of Shakespeare’s most popular speeches are performed by a cast of migrants. The locations are prosaic, ordinary, everyday. The show proves that Shakespeare belongs to everyone and no one.

A pigeon loft is background to Jacques’s All the world’s a stage. The birds come close to upstaging the performer, but nevertheless each age is represented by them, including the return to earth.

The weekly shop gives voice to Edmund’s Thou, nature, art my goddess which doesn’t really connect with the traffic noise, but which raises issues of belonging to the land on which one settles.

A kitchen diner requiring cleaning is the place we hear Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene, where the lady of the house scrubs and settles.

In the world of work, we are in a warehouse full of boxes for Launcelot Gobbo’s Certainly my conscience will serve me – a lament about serving the money lender fits well with an avaricious boss valuing money above employees.

A building site inspires Lear’s Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks on a busy day with the thunder of traffic behind and the tapping of industry. It may reduce a monarch’s decline into madness with a lunch break, but it is interesting.

In a hotel bathroom, Caliban’s This island’s mine becomes the lament of a worker but doesn’t take flight for long enough to matter.

Promotional image for Migrant Shakespeare

Kate’s A woman moved is like a fountain troubled takes place behind the bar, surrounded by bottles and glasses. It is a good performance, but the setting feels forced.

Clearing plates in a cafe, we find Shylock’s If you prick us, do we not bleed, that cry of difference and the abandoned.

Another warehouse (a supermarket or cash and carry) has Prospero’s closing monologue from The Tempest; while in a meat packing factory, Hamlet’s To be or not to be has its place.

Occasional sound issues do impact on the effectiveness of this piece as a whole, but it is a fascinating look at how those whose first language is other than English treat the words and meaning of the Bard.

Seyyar Company produce Migrant Shakespeare – adapted and directed by Naz Yeni.

Hamlet (Hamlet) Tuana Arayici
Jacques (As You Like It) Zülfü Kaplan
Edmund (King Lear) Gözde Isik
Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) Gülisstan Sarbas
Launcelot Gobbo (Merchant of Venice) Semba Tekin
King Lear (King Lear) Tuncay Akpinar
Caliban (The Tempest) Seda Çelik
Katherine (Taming of the Shrew) Eser Rüzgar
Shylock (Merchant of Venice) Deniz Okçu
Prospero (The Tempest) Özlem Tas

Music by Jan ÇIitak

You can stream Migrant Shakespeare during the Brighton Fringe here or via C Arts here.