Willy’s Bitches – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2015WILLYSB_CWWilly’s Bitches, performed by students from the Royal Conservatoire Scotland, continues at Assembly Checkpoint until 30 August (in repertoire, alternating with Under the Ground).

Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★

A clever idea by Shannon Thurston (an MA student at RCS) creates a series of arias for some of Shakespeare’s female characters. It’s sometimes said that soliloquies are spoken arias and here we have these women both speak and sing exquisitely.

In a series of vignettes, the piece examines the said and unsaid using wit, vulnerability and downright nastiness. Julia from Two Gentlemen of Verona is ditzily regretting the tearing of the letter from Proteus and is interrupted by a haunted Ophelia in eerie silence and stillness that haltingly edges towards her madness. Hermia and Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream clearly enjoy the interplay of the ‘height’ argument in soaring counterpoint in a complex, accomplished duet.

Lady Macbeth is a demure widow at first glance, but one who seems to embody the witches from Macbeth as well as the lady. Her portrayal borrows more than a touch of the Lady Melisandre (Game of Thrones fame) and her handy anti-bacterial hand cleaner is clearly a life-saver.

Moving onto a more contemporary, outrageously funny setting brings together two of Will’s most willful women: Kate from the Shrew and Beatrice from Much Ado in a memorably drunken jazz ballad. A Brel-inspired Lavinia from Titus Andronicus gives a wonderfully throaty solo number while overcoming her ‘physical limitations’ before the finale led by a very regal Queen Margaret.

Where this show works is when it takes the chance to explore possible relationships between characters who never meet onstage – the ‘play’ that can blossom as shown with Kate and Beatrice, for example, points to possible development for the show as a whole. Shannon Thurston’s gift of marrying character and musical style is beautifully realised by the talented cast and I would have loved to have seen more.

Fiona Orr

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/willy-s-bitches

* Readers may also be interested in:

Urinetown – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Review

Under the Ground – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Review

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