Shakespeare in Amateur Production

Authored by: Stephen P. Purcell

The Shakespearean World

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415732529
eBook ISBN: 9781315778341
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696193


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I want to start this account of modern amateur Shakespearean performance with reference to two contrasting fictional portrayals in recent films. The first is from Hot Fuzz (2007), an action comedy set in the fictional English village of Sandford. Martin Blower (David Threlfall), an arrogant local solicitor, gets caught speeding by police officers Nick Angel (Simon Pegg) and Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), and he offers them tickets for the Sandford Dramatic Society's Romeo and Juliet "by way of an apology." Blower has cast himself in the male lead, and his much younger lover, Eve Draper (Lucy Punch), as Juliet. The production turns out to be a badly acted "homage" to Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, complete with a closing rendition of The Cardigans' song "Lovefool." Close-ups of the audience reveal horrified faces, with one spectator falling asleep. Blower and Draper are subsequently murdered in their dressing-room, their severed heads left at the boundary of the village. At the end of the film, it transpires that they have been killed, along with numerous others, by the village Neighbourhood Watch Alliance in order to maintain the village's nostalgic self-image; "You murdered him for that?" says Angel. "Well, he murdered Bill Shakespeare," replies their ringleader.

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