Propeller's The Taming Of The Shrew and Twelfth Night at Plymouth Theatre Royal
ALL-male theatre company Propeller are winding up to put audiences in a spin again with their latest double bill of Shakespeare.
The Taming Of The Shrew is a straightforward though controversial comedy.
But Twelfth Night has a few "hold on a minute..." moments for the Theatre Royal Plymouth audience, as a man plays a woman being a man.
Heroine Viola's cross-dressing is central to the fun. She pretends to be a man and falls for a chap who is courting a woman who becomes smitten by her.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
That's all, of course, as audiences would have seen it in the author's day. Only men were allowed to act in early 17th-century Britain.
But one Propeller fella says the acclaimed company's success is rather deeper than the novelty – to modern eyes – of an all-male cast and the obvious comedy that can follow.
"Being all-male is obviously our 'calling card'," says Finn Hanlon, from Devon. "But the key thing is that Propeller do Shakespeare well. They are fantastic story tellers.
"And we are a company that recruits by invitation. You are collaborating with a group of mates and if you want to leave you have to sack yourself.
"You are there because you have been asked and you are suited to it. It's about creativity.
"That's so different from auditioning. In other projects I have seen people get a part just because they did a good audition – but when you see them in rehearsals you realise they aren't suited at all."
Finn's first encounter with the works of Shakespeare was when growing up in the South Hams.
"I was with the Playgoers at Dartington Hall which gave me an introduction to Shakespeare.
"I did some things on stage at Kevics (King Edward VI Community College, Totnes)."
His interest in theatre grew and he did a degree in drama at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. "I've been lucky to have had five or six years' constant work since."
This is his second year with Propeller. He was at the Theatre Royal Last Year when they presented The Winter's Tale and Henry V in typical imaginative and physical style.
The audiences next week will be swelled with many of the Hanlon clan and their friends.
His mother Lynda will be bringing "a coachful" and father Richard, who runs the charity, Lifeworks, will be bringing some of the learning-disabled children from its Dartington base.
The support is mutual. Propeller have raised money for Lifeworks, including with some singing in the interval at the Theatre Royal last time.
The theatre-going supporters won't be seeing Finn in a dress, though. "I have never played a girl and probably never will," he says. "My energy is not right for that. Those that do put on a dress, you forget that they are men as soon as they go on stage."
Twelfth Night is a romp for all concerned, with the exception of Finn in his role as Antonio, friend to Sebastian, Viola's long-lost twin brother. The affection is strong and appears romantic – but Antonio is the only one left out at the end, his love unrequited.
"I see it as a tragedy," says Finn, reflecting on his character's plight.
His character in The Taming Of The Shrew has a better time: Lucentio is the suitor of Shrew Kate's more desirable sister, Bianca.
But the play itself is uncomfortable for many because of the misogynistic themes. Men being cruel to a man playing a woman adds a different edge. But again we should not get too hung up on Propeller's all-male tag, he adds.
Behind the scenes the company is largely female and one day things might change on stage. "Nobody is quite ready to rock the boat yet, though," says Finn.
Propeller present The Taming Of The Shrew at the Theatre Royal Plymouth next week on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and Twelfth Night on Wednesday Thursday and Saturday.