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Midnight at the Boar's Head
Published on Saturday, 11 August 2012
4

4 stars

Zoo Southside (venue website)
Theatre
3-14, 16-27 Aug, 8:15pm-9:20pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

Silly string, balloons, party poppers and free drinks are just a few of the tricks that Fine Chisel pull out of the bag in order to make Shakespeare entertaining. And while the plot is about as watertight as a leaky boat, Midnight at the Boar’s Head is a solid hour of absurd entertainment that will leave you reciting folk songs in your sleep.

Fine Chisel Theatre is part of that rare breed that are as talented musicians as they are actors. As such, Midnight at the Boar’s Head is a lively hybrid of Shakespeare and folk music. Having done a similar production at last year’s Fringe, Fine Chisel could be considered the masters of their particular genre. I was looking forward to seeing them – because no matter how successful their production might be in technical terms, you always leave with the feeling that you had a good time.

Midnight at the Boar’s Head is a conglomeration of a number of Shakespeare’s works, but most notably features Falstaff as a pivotal character. It’s a different, hodge-podge sort of Shakespeare, and although any shred of a plot seems to take a back seat in favour to providing a good old spectacle of drunkenness, it’s certainly a sight to behold. On the plus side, it makes Shakespearean theatre much more accessible. On the negative side, there’s not really a whole lot to think about. But then maybe that’s the point. Their decision to take the lesser-known of Shakespeare’s works to play with ultimately pays off, because there’s not a lot around to compare it to. Thus, Fine Chisel scores top points for originality.

And if the Fringe decided to take part in that obnoxious tradition of handing out yearbook awards, Midnight at the Boar’s Head would win hands-down in the categories of ‘Most Effective Use Of Venue’ and ‘Best Audience Interaction.’ It seems like the Cabaret Bar at Zoo Southside has been tailor-made for their production. As much as any of the actors, you’re a part of the cast, and any awkwardness on the part of the audience quickly dissipates with the professional handling of the actors. The battle scene – I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say it gets messy – is undoubtedly the highlight of the production.

The folk music starts ten minutes before the show, and you’re given free drinks in the middle of the play – if nothing else, Fine Chisel provide value for money. Midnight at the Boar’s Head probably isn’t the best production you’ll see at this year’s Fringe, but it might be the most fun you’ll have. Take a few friends, have a few drinks beforehand and leave your inhibitions at the door. You’ll have a cracking time.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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