After a half century away from the stage, Chicken Soup comes storming back to rage against fascism.
Never before staged in English, Jonathan Kent’s viscerally thrilling production boils down this epic into three and a half heart-pounding hours.
Unlike the garish version being performed in the West End, this Much Ado relies on the text and the acting. And it works.
It’s doubtful we’ll see a finer, more vital Richard III in a decade.
In trying to reinterpret the story to make it more universal, what we see now is a mutant version meant not for fans of the arts, but for simple savages.
Our naughty hero wages war, quite literally, against the heavens.
Stoppard maneuvers two of the most dispensable minor characters ever conceived into a central position via convoluted puns, collegiate debate and knowingly arched eyebrows over the Bard.
The play may be a storm in a domestic teacup, but the electricity crackles, and the fine bone china, once smashed, can never be fixed.
The other characters get repeatedly lashed by Butley's terrifying humour, but for the audience, spending time in his company is pure entertainment.
For anyone whose expectations are not sky-high, the reward is an agreeable diversion with a nice line in both showbiz savvy and chutzpah.