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In Shakespeare Saved My Life, one of the prisoners that Laura Bates worked with compared the play to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, in that complaining that modern television and video game violence is so much worse than violence in entertainment of years gone by does not take plays like Titus Andronicus into account, and that saying that modern entertainment is more violent than this would be like saying that Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is more violent than Mortal Kombat.
Samuel Woodforde illustration of Tamora watching Lavinia dragged away to be raped, from Act 2, Scene 3; engraved by Anker S.
SOPHIA CHETIN-LEUNER reviews performances from ‘Shakespeare Shuffled’ at the Greenwich Theatre.
With less than 16% of Shakespeare’s characters being women who are given only 6% of his lines, Smooth Faced Gentlemen address this disparity head on. Smooth Faced Gentlemen were given the best act of the play: murder by torch light and ghosts at the dinner table!
Uh, I learned that you can't claim to have read all of Shakespeare's plays without having read this one.
I may have missed the best one, which was performed by an all-female Shakespearean company who go by the name of Smooth Faced Gentlemen.
More recent theatre productions, such as Phyllida Lloyd’s at the Donmar Warehouse, employ all-female casts in order to counter this deficiency in female representation.


The audience was warmed up by their farcical Act 1: a Ken doll Macbeth (Tom Dixon) teamed with three energetic male witches, who cleverly doubled up as other roles too.
Which is kind of like saying you can't really call yourself a "movie buff" without forcing yourself to watch torture porn.
Smooth Faced Gentlemen similarly tackle this inequality in gender, directly contravening the prohibition of women performing on the Elizabethan stage of Shakespeare’s day.
Just as the audience was howling with laughter, The Merely Players had the tough task of following twenty minutes of raucousness with a tense scene between Macbeth and his wife in Act 2. The strong opening, with Banquo (Stella Taylor) fencing against the audience, was reminiscent of the final scene of Hamlet, succeeding in a tonal shift that The Merely Players had failed to achieve. Their costumes were a clumsy mix of low-budget Elizabethan doublet and hose with Clarks’ brogues. Amazing ones, with secret passageways and moving ladders and the most comfortable seats and the best books. Impressed with their ability to portray some of Shakespeare’s most masculine roles, he invited them to his theatre and the result is the rather brilliant ‘Shakespeare Shuffled’.


Although Smooth Faced Gentlemen were, therefore, the main selling point of Shakespeare Shuffled, they were not the only stars.
The company prides itself on performing Shakespeare with no set, props or costume so that the audience instead focus on the language. Farce collided with linguistic purity and was held firmly together by the tour-de-force that was Henri Merriam, from The Smooth Faced Gentlemen, as Macbeth.
However, this ideology was undermined by the anachronism of seeing Shakespeare performed in modern, everyday clothing.
Yet, it was because of the contrast in characterisation, especially between Merriam’s Macbeth and Paul Moss’ camp Lady Macbeth, that the night did not take itself too seriously.



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