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What a treat – the Royal Shakespeare Company at Blackpool GrandTheatre! After a quirky promotional event a couple of weeks ago at Starbucks, I was looking forward to this jazz-infused production.

The theatre was jammed and there was an excited buzz in the air. We entered the theatre to a fully lit stage, a jazz band playing centrally, elevated on the stage, and a beautiful blonde sitting to the right on the stage and smoking (yes, smoking!) and chatting to the audience.  All of a sudden there was a kerfuffle as we were set upon from all entrances of the theatre as the cast entered through the bar and stalls and made their way to the stage.

A Mad World My Masters is set in colourful 1950s London Soho  which cast an interesting visual aesthetic with a perhaps arbitrary dialogue. The play itself has been re-written since the 17th century a handful of times which explains the Shakespearean dialogue mingling with 1950’s London dialect. Thomas Middleton’s version, much like the original, evokes themes of sexuality, frivolity, comedy, prostitution, slapstick, alcohol, greed, strong women, debauchery, double entendre and satirical performance – there is a lot of content to experience. Monty Python’s ‘nudge nudge’ sketch comes to mind.

The plot centres around a playboy character who has eyes on his Hugh Hefner-type uncle’s fortune. Miss Kidmann, a prostitute, is an important player to his “lusty wants”.  Other notable characters include Miss Kidmann’s lovable, glamorous mother (also her pimp), a fallen-but-in-denial vicar, a nun, a horny butler, and a stepford type wife with wanton desires.  The actors fill the stage with their music, their eyebrows raised expectantly, talking to the audience with promises of meeting for a drink, or something else, later!

In Mad World’s 1950s bohemia, pleasure and decadence reign supreme in the bars and a bawdy, musical carry on.

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