Geeks, it’s time to unite, and head to Greenside! The ‘Infinity Quill’ has been taken! Shakespeare has been kidnapped! There’s only one thing for it… to assemble Shakespeare’s Avengers. And what a team they make – Lady Macbeth, Brutus, Hamlet, Opehlia, Puck and Romeo, who must work past their petty grievances to save Shakespeare from Oberon. There’s just one catch: none of them know that they’re mere characters, written into history by a man with a magic pen.
You’ll have detected that this isn’t a play for the Shakespeare purists. It’s irreverent in the extreme, merging Peter Pan with Shakespearean comedy and accusing the Bard of stealing the ultimate writing quill from Christopher Marlowe. Yet it’s side-splittingly funny, and incredibly endearing too.
It’s clear that the crew from Drake’s Drummers Theatre Company know their Shakespeare, and aren’t approaching it with any kind of malice. They manage to pack in wonderful references from many of his works, including an excellent running joke based on the famous stage direction ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ from A Winter’s Tale. Some knowledge of Shakespeare is definitely an advantage for members of the audience, but even if you’ve only read Hamlet or Macbeth in school, you can most likely follow Avengers Assembleth well. In fact, it was references to Marvel’s Avengers which I felt were lacking; these unfortunately seemed to peter off the longer the play went on.
The cast of actors works well together, as they make their way through various scenes set in the Midsummer Forest. The distinctly Northern Brutus is a true highlight, haunted by his dagger, and stabbing everyone in sight (on one memorable occasion, he even yells ‘For the Watch!’ as he’s doing it). A rather fed-up Puck is another stand-out as he tries to diplomatically solve the crisis in his own Puckish way.
Ophelia on the other hand dropped the F-bomb a bit too much for my liking; by the end she had become thoroughly irritating, although something tells me that might have been the intention. Either way, this is a cast that clearly loves the material they’ve been given, and the audience can’t help but be roped into feeling an infectious sense of fun. Laughter was frequent and loud – so much so that the actors had to pause in some scenes.
Obviously there will be those who hate the very idea of this production, but it’s not for those people that I’m writing this review. If you’re like me, and you're excited rather than horrified by the idea of merging Marvel's Avengers with the most respected plays in the English canon, then this show will not disappoint you. It’s corny, it’s silly and it’s very, very funny. And just like Avengers, it’s probably heading straight for a sequel.