Award-winning company Three Chairs and a Hat returns to the screen for the online programme at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Directed by Wayne T Brown, Few are Angels brings a fresh, innovative take on some of Shakespeare’s female characters. As traditionally all of Shakespeare’s female characters were played by men and boys, this concept allows women’s voices to portray the power and relevance of those women today.
This is the second video in a major digital project, ‘Shakespeare (she/her)’, which aims to spark storytelling and ideas by giving modern settings for Shakespeare’s original text. In Few are Angels, Cleopatra rages in prison; Cressida searches online for love; The Courtesan from Comedy of Errors gossips over her fence in curlers and Marigolds, and much more.
The film may only run at twenty minutes but it packs in a surprising amount. We’re treated to a short, sweet snippet of a grand total of nine female characters. There’s an obvious pattern throughout in the script and language, which ties the whole performance together.
Another similarity from one scene to the next is the commitment and embodiment from each actress, with each one giving as dedicated a performance as the one before. They really do a magnificent job of displaying the power, humanity and vulnerability of Shakespeare’s female characters, but in contexts that are familiar to us as a modern-day audience.
The differing settings add further variety, from a CCTV monitored prison, to a modern-day living room, to a typical looking garden. Three Chairs founder Nia Williams has written original music for the sonnet ‘Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun’, sung by the wife of a dying man on a ventilator. All in all, it makes for a fast-paced production that is sure keep viewers on their toes.
Suitable for age 12 plus, Few are Angels is an intriguing and contemporary take on Shakespeare. Whilst some may find original Shakespeare difficult to depict, Three Chairs and a Hat’s clever interpretation translates the traditional characters into more relatable alternatives.