Methought I was enamoured of an ass

It’s not every night that I find myself dancing with a mischievous sprite, at least not one with whom I had just had a rubber chicken dual. Perhaps it was all just a dream, albeit a Midsummer Night’s dream.

Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet all escaped a mauling as Shakespeare’s comedy was randomly picked out by the You’re Bard company, with characters then allocated by chance to the ensemble cast, with the gleeful intention of throwing as many obstacles as possible in the way of coherence. Already obliged to perform each act in a different style, compere Rachael Holbrook invited audience members to wave their pictures of Britney Spears (I promise I’m not making this up) whenever it took their fancy, whereupon yet more layers of madness would be introduced via tombola. The cast each took a turn at being humiliated. I particularly enjoyed Murray Andrews’s Frankie Howard impression during the Carry On Section, Beth Organ’s death scene was a master class in method acting, Joe Hackett put heart and soul into his time as a snake, while Nate Harter took everything, including a custard pie, on the chin.

Joe was also my dancing partner – just one of many instances where audience participation was not so much encouraged, as insisted upon. Thankfully, I wasn’t handcuffed, dressed as a wall, given lines to read or hats to wear in an evening of joyous silliness, with the added dimension that the cast really had, impressively, learned the text. The question remains whether this deconstruction of Shakespeare was sacrilege or just hugely enjoyable fun. It was probably both, but given their hoots of laughter and rapturous applause, there’s no doubting which side of the debate the Corn Hall audience came down on.