Liverpool based theatre company Trickster has become known for its Shakespeare productions, usually opting for the high drama and intensity of the tragedies. This year, they are trying something different and their Much Ado About Nothing opens at the Kazimier next week.
Led by founder and artistic director Cellan Scott and performed by a largely regular cast who are familiar faces on the city’s fringe scene (if you haven’t seen them on stage, you’ll know them if you’re a visitor to Mello Mello), the company aims to make Shakespeare relevant to audiences by modernising the plays, performing the text in a naturalistic style and making sure stories are told well. The company are also ahead of the curve – although other productions of Much Ado are on the way across the North West, this has to be the first in Liverpool in some years.
Although operating on a tiny budget, Trickster has staged three high quality productions in the city since 2011 – last year’s Othello, plus Macbeth and the original A Warning Against Idle Gossip.
Much Ado features familiar performers including Scott, Angie Waller, Trev Fleming and Jack Darell of improvised comedy group Impropriety, and Elenor Stephenson and Zoe Vaux, who were both in Othello. Newcomers to the mix showing a seldom-seen side to their talents include burlesque performer Mimi Amore and DJ and Threshold Festival organiser Chris Carney.
Directing alone for the first time is Rosie Wilkinson, who is looking forward to the challenge of taking a company better known for exploring the Bard’s dark side and lightening things up a bit.
“Much Ado isn’t a light comedy – there’s a very real side to it and that’s what attracts me,” she says. “The relationships are very real. And it’s nice to do a Shakespeare play with more about it than jealousy and murder.
“For a comedy, the drama that’s in it has real potential to shock. It gets quite dark before the pay off at the end. And there’s so much beautiful imagery in the language – that’s not just something exclusive to the tragedies. It’s all there, like the others – just nobody ends up dying. It’s been a really enjoyable experience, and great seeing people I’ve only ever seen do tragedy getting stuck into comedy.”
In the main, Much Ado follows the twists and turns of romance between reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick, and the the impending marriage of the sweet and innocent Hero and Claudio. But naturally, the course of true love never did run smooth (that’s in the play, you know), and there are plenty of friends and enemies on the peripheries to cause havoc along the way. Trickster’s production will have its own twists, with some gender switching and shifting of dynamics between characters. The production also boasts an original score, written and performed by musicians including members of local bands including the Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band and Dead Hedge Trio.
Trickster has been Liverpool-based for four years, and at first used the short lived attic space (The Studio) in Elevator Studios on Parliament Street for its earlier productions, moving to the Kazimier for Othello last summer. As the home of Impropriety’s Improvathon, which she also directs, Rosie knows the versatility of the venue – with its multitude of split levels, staircases and unusual nooks and crannies – is a real boon to a creative company.
Rosie says: “The Kazimier space is a wonderful space to do stuff in and have the opportunity to play in there. And there’s something about it that really lends itself to Shakespeare. Being able to be in the round and be close to the audience – I think that’s what Shakespeare needs.”
Catch Much Ado About Nothing from Monday, August 4 to Thursday August 7 at the Kazimier. Tickets are £8/ £6 concs, available on the door or by email reservation via firstname.lastname@example.org.