For its seventh Fringe World season, the Bogan Shakespeare gang tackles Shakespeare’s most overrated play and gives it the DIY makeover it so richly deserves, says David Zampatti.
- Reading time • 5 minutesComedy
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Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Julius Caesar, BS Productions ·
Studio Underground @ State Theatre Centre of WA, 21 January, 2022 ·
Caesar Schmeezer. Never liked the thing. It’s okay early, though a bit of a pantomime – “Beware the Ides of March” is Shakespeare’s version of “He’s behind you!” – and who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned stabbing? But once Marc Antony winds up his Big Speech, it really runs out of puff. If ever a play needed to be re-set at a Bunnings store in Busselton and given the Bogan Shakespeare treatment, this was it.
Jewlz Caesar (Dean Lovatt) is one of several department managers at the store, but when a couple of suits from head office tell him on the QT that there’s a restructure coming and he’s in line for manager of the whole shebang – the king, so to speak – his head spins with ambition (for a bit, I thought I was watching Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Macbeth, but no matter).
Jewlz is a bit bumbling, a lot weak and a whole lot two-faced, an insipid version of Ricky Gervais’s David Brent, but he hardly deserves to die for it.
Too bad. His “team” – the sinister Cassius (Jess Lally), the gullible Brutus (Harrison Mitchell) and the downright psychopathic Casca (Maiken Kruger) – decides he must be terminated with extreme prejudice, and there’s plenty of merchandise at the store to commit it with. Stab stab stab stab – with what looked like the popular Cuisinart utility knife ($19.95).
All of which is bad news for Jewlz’s mate Antony (Sarah Courtis), who jumped up to tell the staff of Caesar’s plans for their benefit … and so on. Things go badly for Cassius and Brutus, who find themselves surrounded by Antony’s forces armed with Ryobi ONE+ 18v whipper-snippers ($119). Regaled by Jewlz’s ghost, they end up falling on the stakes of each other’s Waxworks 180cm bamboo torches ($4.95).
The Bogan Shakespeare gang has achieved a rare feat (the comedian Dr Ahmed might be the only other example). With tenacity, good marketing and a keen sense of what works for an audience out for a good time and some laughs, they’ve built themselves into a perennial Fringe World powerhouse.
That’s not to dismiss the quality of the work. Their scripts are tight and acute, their performances full of life and appealing self-awareness, their cultural literacy – whether it’s Shakespeare or corporate chicanery – is spot on and the whole package is really, really funny.
And, not to be underestimated in a world where you don’t always know what you’re in for, they are as constant as the northern star.
Disclosure: David Zampatti owns a few Wesfarmers shares and a Ryobi cordless electric lawnmower ($329) from Bunnings. Lowest prices are just the beginning.
Pictured top is Dean Lovatt as Jewlz Caesar. Photo: David Cox Media
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