If there is one thing that is assured in this crazy old mixed up world of ours, dear readers, it’s that when you combine Shakespeare and “an exquisitely bawdy all male” company, the results are a joyful middle finger to the doldrums of a Michigan mid-winter. The Propeller Shakespeare Company dishes out just such an order with their campy spin on The Bard. These boys from across the pond have been engaged for a full five days of hotly anticipated madness by the University of Michigan during the final week of February.
They promise three things: “English accents, tomfoolery and iambic pentameter” — and being a rabid fan of foolery (tom or otherwise), my interest was cemented from the first. Propeller blends a love and attention to Shakespeare’s text with a potently modern physical aesthetic, imbuing classic pieces with new life and meaning. The same troupe will bust their behinds performing two plays in their short stay, with “Twelfth Night” and “The Taming of the Shrew” playing alternately. Both of these plays capitalize heavily on the old Shakespeare standby of mistaken identity and deception as an engine for hilarity, making them extraordinarily well suited for the Propeller treatment.
“In ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ a man playing a boy dresses up as a girl, which confuses Christopher Sly. In ‘Twelfth Night,’ a man plays a girl disguised as a boy, which confuses everybody.” When one considers the prospect of an all-male company tackling these already admittedly head-spinning gender calisthenics, the true potential for a unique experience becomes almost impossible to deny! And with the actors performing live music in addition to walking in heels, the delights will be manifold.
Ann Arbor’s Power Center will play host to this band of merry pranksters and tickets are available through the University Musical Society’s website, ums.org. The fun begins Wednesday, February 20.