Great script and original songs make this another success from the LEP both starring and directed by stalwart Dave Bowden
The play is set on Midsummer’s Eve in present day Stratford upon Avon. American Country and Western singer Billy Shake has arrived in town looking for the connection which will authenticate his claim to being the true descendant of William Shakespeare, but having gambled away all his money en route, he relies on the good nature of those whose paths he crosses to help him locate Shakespeare’s famed oak tree and the proof he seeks - two leading actors from the current RSC production who are set to be married the following day but each harbouring doubts; a Japanese businessman from a pharmaceutical company test-marketing a new “feel-good” tablet; a New-Age traveller and a host of other odd and unusual characters who all conspire in one way or another to make it an evening to remember. When the tablets mischievously end up in the wrong hands, the scene is set for confusion and mistaken identities in this fast-paced comedy of reconciliation, a modern-day updating of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Rafe Duke - Nigel Bacon
Lara Ferris - Kath Gill
Billy Shake - Dave Bowden
Koichi Bando - Nick Wyse
Mira Edge - Pia Obank
Dame Aurelia - Tish Marshall
Gunter Kaufmann - Bob Connor
Dan Howard - Steve Stott
Bonny Lee - Lou Jackson
Webbo - Phillipa Lee
Sergeant 405 - Charlie Edgley
"A country and western take on Shakespeare"
(Bucks Free Press review by Archie Wilson)
This play was commissioned especially for the 1993 BY Biennial in association with the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain.
It was simultaneously premiered at 53 theatres around the country on October 16, 1993. That night must have been one of the happiest of the year, for Shakespeare Country is one of the funniest plays around with a lovely plot and some very witty lines.
Lane End Players made the most of the script with an all-round performance led by Dave Bowden (who also directed). Dave played an American country and western singer searching for his ancestor - Will Shakespeare no less - in Stratford Upon Avon. Apart from directing and acting, Dave also has a wonderfully gravelly voice which he used to great effect, regaling us throughout the production.
Lane End's ever present Nigel Bacon portraying a Shakespearean actor (Oberon) about to be married, impressed with a confident performance whilst Kath Gill, her sylth-like figure dressed entirely in white made a wonderful would-be bride, a gossamer-like Titania during the play's parody of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Pia Obank was her usual ebullient self whilst selling Big Willy Burgers and falling love with Northern playwright Dan Howard, played merrily but rather fatalistically by Steve Stott.
Tish Marshall was every inch the upper class academic Dame as Aurelia Ward and was well complemented by the dour teutonic performance of Bob Connor portraying Gunter Kaufmann, a German academic.
Lou Jackson burst onto the scene as an extrovert Bonny Lee, Billy Shake's manager, and Nick Wyse gave us Glasshopper style Koichi Bando.
But the performance of the night for me had to be newcomer Phillipa Lee's New Age Traveler and Spirit - Webbo. Impish, dimple-cheeked and thoroughly likeable, she lit up the forest.
Lane End Village Hall
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