‘The Complete Deaths’ will be a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Premiering at Brighton Festival on 11 May, this new show performed by Spymonkey and adapted and directed by Tim Crouch will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them.
There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare – 75 if you count the black ill- favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus. They range from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra; from Pyramus and Thisbe to young Macduff. There are countless stabbings, plenty of severed heads, some poisonings, two mobbings and a smothering. Enorbarbus just sits in a ditch and dies from grief. And then there’s the pie that Titus serves the Queen of the Goths. Spymonkey will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically.
“Seeing how the four clowns each have a different approach to the material is interesting: it is reflective of the way that people have different connections to death and different approaches to Shakespeare.” Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company
The Complete Deaths is directed by Tim Crouch (I, Malvolio, An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb) and designed by Spymonkey regular Lucy Bradridge.
Spymonkey is the UK’s leading physical comedy company, based in Brighton and comprising a core creative ensemble of five lead artists: artistic directors Toby Park, Petra Massey and Aitor Basauri, and associate artist Stephan Kreiss and designer Lucy Bradridge. They have been making sublimely hilarious and deeply ridiculous theatre since 1998 including their last critically acclaimed show Oedipussy, directed by Emma Rice, which toured extensively across 2012-2013.
Tim Crouch is an OBIE award-winning British playwright and theatre maker. He was an actor for many years before starting to write – and still performs in much of his work. He has written a series of five plays inspired by Shakespeare’s lesser characters – I, Shakespeare. I, Cinna (the poet) was commissioned and produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 2012 and was nominated for the Writers Guild of Great Britain’s award for Best Play for Younger Audiences.
The Complete Deaths is a co-production with Brighton Festival and Royal &Derngate Northampton, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Developed at The Other Place at the RSC, and supported by the MA Dramatic Writing Lab at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins.