I’ve followed Taking Flight Theatre for a couple of years now and their high-energy, high-fun BSL integrated Shakespeare plays just keep getting better.
Their speciality is open-air promenade performances, meaning that the ‘stage’ moves from place to place around some picturesque setting and the audience follows. I’ve seen them perform come rain or shine; the downside of a promenade show is that one needs to be ready for all variations of British weather!
The cast delivered a singing, dancing, physical, high-energy, bawdy and visually rich version of Romeo and Juliet, making all other versions I’ve seen look positively sombre and almost dull.
Best of all for me, the BSL was front and centre, as essential as the English. The BSL was not left to the interpreter and the deaf actors alone; all of the cast signed at some point.
In some really well-rehearsed scenes, the actors and interpreter were signing together, reacting to and in time with each other and creating a joint BSL / visual experience that I’ve only seen before in sign language poetry shows. I loved it.
The BSL itself had clearly been given a lot of thought, and I appreciated how it had been made part of the play; truly integrated, rather than an afterthought.
The attention to detail in the play extended not only to language, costume and props, I loved the play programme / yearbook that tied in perfectly with the theme.
The play also came with integrated audio description; occasionally at the end of a scene, they would announce something before dashing off after the rest of the cast. This in itself wasn’t interpreted which I found a bit puzzling until I realised what it was.
While I wouldn’t necessarily hang a sign on them saying “audio describer, worry not” maybe an intro at beginning would signpost what they’re doing, i.e. describing and not acting a part of the play.
That was the only possible quibble I could find – apart from the walking and the rain, don’t forget to bring a coat and a chair – in a visually absorbing and very enjoyable performance of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
Now touring Wales, see their website at: http://www.takingflighttheatre.co.uk/romeo-juliet/
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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