With so many classic novels at our fingertips who can possibly have the time to read them all? Never fear, this fictional theatre company are here to help us out, the only problem is they need to secure some funding, and they can only do that by breaking a world record – performing 42 literary classics in an hour, and so follows a madcap sixty minutes in Classic! Playing at Pleasance Courtyard as part of Edinburgh Fringe.
It’s an amusing concept, and one that definitely keeps the audience entertained. What makes it work so well is that the group aren’t simply spewing out novel after novel, each individual performance has it’s own unique twist; Tess of the D’Urbervilles is told by an acapella group, while Lady Chatterley’s Lover is told as a sensual monologue, replete with a guest appearance by the Lord Chamberlain.
We see Jane Austen in the style of a silent movie, while one of Dicken’s most famous novels is adapted to be set on the streets of New York (though it might have been Chicago, judging by some off the accents). Silly songs, outrageous props, and some occasional help from the audience help the company towards their funding goal.
The time devoted to each gets shorter and shorter as the group realise they’re running out of time, so a hilarious whistlestop tour of twenty or so novels see the company left with just enough time to tackle one of the biggest classics of all.
Aside from the interpretations of the novels, we also get some storyline about the company; there’s friction that plays alongside the other scenes and that adds an extra dimension. Classic! might not help you win Mastermind with classic literature as you specialist subject, but it will entertain, and make you laugh heartily for an hour.