in black and hopping around the stage in the manner of various Shakespeare
characters, changing between commentary mode and acting mode, he
is like a pliable piece of play dough, keeping our interest the
whole time. Even in the commentary bits which feel a bit like a
college lecture or a theory acting class, we are never sure if he
is being himself or still acting a role. It is enough to inspire
anyone into a Shakespeare fan or a stage thespian.
I particularly liked his point on what Shakespeare deals with most
in his plays: love. Love that makes you dance and love that tears
you apart. It is the absence of love which creates the villain,
someone who is motivated solely by their own lusts, regardless of
the pain it may cause to others. Steven Berkoff seems to relish
this evil quality in all its glory, even looking a bit daemon like
Moving through each of Shakespeare's main villains Berkoff sorts
them into types. Macbeth is a wannabe villain, (influenced by Lady
Macbeth) Shylock is the bloodthirsty villain, Iago is the mediocre
villain, (jealous of those around him) and Oberon is the innocent
villain, being a fairy he does not immediately seem evil, but in
fact, is the original drug pusher. Hamlet was also classed as a
villain, which I didn't completely agree with, but it is a fair
point that he goes from being a philosophy student to a serial killer
within 6 months.
Bringing in comedy throughout, Steven Berkoff manages to make Shakespeare
and the theatre not only relevant but also appealing. The show is
slick and fast paced, the end coming abruptly and as a surprise,
with no apparent conclusion, but this makes the whole act more memorable.
Well worth seeing.