A star is rising in the east, at Krudttønden theatre in Østerbro to be exact, in the form of Adam Brix, who following his success in last autumn’s ‘The Zoo Story’ has nailed it again with some wonderfully contemporary Shakespearean acting. Brix is Karl the barman in the play ‘Shakespeare Unplugged’, a brand new play penned by actor Ian Burns and director Barry McKenna of That Theatre.
Imagine entering an ordinary British pub where there are two bartenders – Karl and his colleague Signe (Vibeke Nielsen) – and two drunk Brits, Derek (Burns) and John (Andrew Jeffers), who are in their element pounding down beers while chatting to fellow punters. Only this time, the pub’s a stage, and the punters merely the audience.
The play officially begins with them yelling out “Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land!” as a football match is about to begin, but the sensitive barman Karl, who’s neither enthusiastic about the game nor hooligans – a comment that only makes the Brits yell louder turns on the telly, though he would rather enjoy his book.
The plot revolves around the works of Shakespeare with a focus on the theme of love since the young and inexperienced Karl is miserably in love with the beautiful Rosalind. Only seconds after turning on the telly the electricity goes out, and so the (unplugged) Shakespearean magic begins as Jon and Derek, being superior in the field of love and wooing – in their own opinion at least – take on the challenge of teaching the young Karl a few things.
The play takes you through several plays within the play in true Shakespearean style, and you have to watch your step as it jumps from play to play and scene to scene, of which some are more convincing than others. Talking as a true Shakespearean novice, it can be a bit difficult connecting all the dots, though some of them were obviously recognisable – even to Danes – like the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ scene between Karl and a mysterious woman on the TV.
Recognisable or not, the different plays take the audience on a journey through the lessons of love: from unrequited love and vanity, to love from a woman’s point of view. But it isn’t until Brix dresses up like a woman towards the end of the show that they really hit the nerve of the audience with a scene (a play within a play within a play) from the comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
The love scene between Brix as the enchanting Thisbe and her lover Pyramus (Jeffers), who are separated by a wall (Burns), was something the audience really liked and – especially judging by the amount of giggling teenage girls – it was definitely the funniest part of the poetic mix of drunk people and poetry.
So overall, there’s something for everybody in ’Shakespeare Unplugged’, and as long they have Brix on board, they’re capable of anything.