A Meaty Slice of the Bard’s tales

Love story in satin fingers

The Canberra Times – 6 April 2013
By Alanna MacLean
For Richard, Professor of Literature

Richard, self-professed professor of literature, bumbles into the small Street Two space intent on teaching about Shakespeare. Stephane Georis’ Richard is an uncertain expert but very keen to communicate with an amiable audience what he does know about three plays in particular: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III.

This he proceeds to do with the assistance of a small bookcase complete with books that may contain more than pages. Newspapers, hats, eclairs, knives and an old-fashioned mincer all come in to play. At the base of the show is a novel approach to puppetry and anything, even a large piece of meat or a sinister metal coffee pot, can be turned into a character.

Stephane Georis plays him genially, gently involving the odd audience member as he describes his way into one play after another. Shakespeare himself is a beret and an enigmatic face made from book pages. Hamlet is a wispy self-destructive newspaper figure who never gets much past “to be or not to be”.

Things blossom with Romeo and Juliet, where feuding fathers and Friar Lawrence are made out of clothes pegs and various items of clothing while the lovers are a pair of scarlet satin gloves. Most of the plot goes out the window but with a bit of cunning overhead lighting the love story and the tomb scene become most affecting.

Richard III, a butcher’s shop of a play if ever there was one, gets the meat treatment at the hands of a mad mediaeval butcher with what looks like a mask of steak. The details of the wars between Lancaster and York and the complicated cast list are garbled but this is to be expected when there are so many Edwards, Elizabeths and Richards. What is very clear is the central Richard’s ruthless chase after power as rival after rival ends up chopped up and on the shish kebab.

Georis’ performance teeters just on the right side of cute. His professor has more enthusiasm than knowledge but the imagery of the inventive puppetry carries the show because it so often catches a truth about the plays. It deserves an audience who know their way around the canon and who can chuckle at the play-out music, ironically being The Argincourt Carol; had Henry V not died and left the crown to the infant Henry VI, Shakespear’s Richard III might not ever have existed.

It’s a short and in some ways slight show but any piece that can make us feel sad for the deaths of a couple of red satin gloves deserves attention.