"Who wilt thou call?" Well it won’t be the Ghostbusters, because they are protected by copyright: so instead Reduck Produktions presents Ministers of Grace: The Unauthorised Shakespearean Parody. In Elizabethan London, three scientists set up a business to detect and eliminate ghosts. They battle to save the world from Gozer the Gozerian, God of Destruction, who is hell-bent on crossing into this dimension – but all the while they must deal with bureaucrats, love rivals, and a surly receptionist.
We enter the venue to the music of a lute player, performing the Ghostbusters theme while dressed in Elizabethan costume; it’s a little surreal, but it works, and sets the tone nicely for the unfolding performance. The opening scene involves Peter Venkman (the one who's played by Bill Murray in the movie) testing a man and a woman, to see if pain can stimulate psychic ability. While flirting with the woman, he pays little attention to the man, except to press a burning hot poker to his skin after every guess – much to the amusement of the audience.
It’s a promising start to this is faithful adaptation of the film, and I found myself waiting for my favourite scenes so I could see how they had been changed. I wasn’t disappointed: the commercial was a particular highlight, as was Venkman’s speech to the Mayor in relation to "felines and curs abiding together".
Jordan Monsell’s script is written entirely in Shakespearean language, and is both accessible and very clever. Aside from adapting the dialogue from the film, he manages to stuff the script with quotes from a variety of Shakespeare plays, and have the whole thing still make sense. The cast are clearly having fun with the script, and deliver various nods and winks to the audience – for instance Slimer in this version is called John Belushi, and has a short Hamlet-esque monologue about his death.
The costumes are a little rough around the edges and the props have a similar air of being thrown together, but they are all serviceable, with the proton packs a special highlight. However, the set could have been a bit better. There are three main frames on wheels with sheets over them, which are moved around as needed and mostly used to represent doors. It felt a little cheap, and I'd have appreciated more of an effort to match the quality of the performance and writing.
But this is a minor quibble, as overall the show is excellent. I love Ghostbusters, and I love Shakespeare – so my expectations were high, and they were met. An uproarious adaptation that fans of the movies will love, and Shakespeareans will at least appreciate. Highly recommended.