Katrina Woolley reviews Bob at C Cubed (Venue 50) at 20.20pm.

The number of quirky Shakespeare productions at Fringe is slightly abominable, from modernisations, to musicals to gender swapping; original ways to approach the bard are fast running dry. But this offering from Gin and Tonic Productions is everything one wants from a Fringe show: extremely original, hilarious, devised and bursting at the seams of their doublets with energy and enthusiasm. The trick with this telling of Shakespeare’s apparently long forgotten masterpiece ‘Bob’ is that it has just enough reference points with the original works to feel familiar, and to poke fun at theatre students everywhere, while really not being Shakespeare at all (because having the whole cast in ruffs doesn’t actually make it Shakespeare despite popular misbelief).

Very loosely based on Macbeth, the devised performance set in modern Finland sees the rise and fall of Bob, a well meaning but unheroic sort of man played by Paddy Wilmott. His wife Lady Bob is a conservative and manipulative bitch who wants to stop Finland’s embracing of left wing policies and has murdered her three previous husbands with the help of a pair of nuns whose spare time is occupied with being hired assassins. The Sisters are a fabulous comic duo and Lady Bob, played by Esmee Cook is perfect. All the actors are wonderful to watch but Cook’s has to be the most impressive performance, embodying and switching characters seamlessly and never losing her command of the stage. Ben Horner also deserves particular credit for what has to be one of the most unstoppably, if slightly aggressively, energetic performances at Fringe this year – despite a broken hand.

Overall the show is a serious treat and it is obvious how collaboratively and organically the whole thing has come about. The jokes are constant, topical and brilliantly timed, and the vivid characters and physical work, even including some silly bits of choreography, are huge fun to watch. The company have taken the show to London and Avignon and are now back in Edinburgh, so don’t miss out on a chance to delight in some faux-Shakespearean fun.

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Katrina Woolley

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