Now here’s something to savour. First seen in 2015 Complete Works sees Forced Entertainment stalwarts create short versions of all of Shakespeare’s plays on a table top using every day household objects. When I saw a version of Romeo and at the Barbican back in 2016 Juliet was played passionately by a jar of marmalade and Romeo was a plastic pencil torch. Poor Lady C was half a bottle of washing up liquid. Then there was King John as a potato masher and Rosalind from As You Like It as a bottle of Shampoo. At their very best these mini epics really do explore the illusions of theatre and the fact we really can be made to believe that a jar of marmalade can blush but what they always are is more than a crib-sheet version of the original plays. At their best they make you think about a familiar play and the relationships within it differently, make you think how who tells a story and the methods they employ to do so change the meaning.
A salt and pepper pot for the king and queen. A vase for the prince. A matchbox for the servant. A toilet roll tube for the Innkeeper. A water bottle for the messenger. A kitchen table for a stage. In this ‘At Home’ edition of Complete Works the dramatis personae of household objects return to a domestic setting in a unique staging directly from the performers’ homes to yours. Originally conceived in 2015, in Complete Works six performers create condensed versions of all of the Shakespeare plays, comically and intimately retelling them, using a collection of everyday objects as stand-ins for the characters on the one metre stage of a table top. Complete Works has been performed in theatre spaces across the world as well as being webcast to thousands of international viewers, however, while a global pandemic has shut down stages everywhere, the piece finds an intimate new life by ‘coming home’. Rather than a table set against the red drapes of a theatre, the objects find their starting positions on Terry’s kitchen table or Jerry’s desk as if they’d just been taken down from the surrounding shelves and cupboards of each performers’ home.