Much Ado About Comedy

Wednesday 20 April



Little Britain’s Matt Lucas explores Shakespeare’s comedies and examines whether they have an influence on current humour.

Today we interpret comedy from quite a different perspective than 400 years ago – comedy in that era, meant a happy ending. Now, we can use Shakespeare’s comedies to greater comic effect, depending on the director and actors involved, and how they can convey his words for today’s audiences. Director Michael Grandage explains how he translates the text from as fresh a perspective as possible.

Shakespeare’s plays are seen as timeless because they deal with human issues still familiar today. His themes provoke comic reactions – from romance to confusion and chaos through mistaken identity and cross-dressing. In this programme, listeners will hear examples from his best-known comedies. And what did Shakespeare’s “fools” represent back then and were they the stand-up comedians of their day? The fool was sometimes used to expose the vain, mock the pompous and deliver a few home truths, but he wasn’t necessarily there for comic effect.

As The Reversed Shakespeare Company is launched, artistic director, Lindsay Dukes, shares her future plans of gender-swapping all of Shakespeare’s characters to offer a fresh experience to the younger generation. The programme also hears about Ben Elton’s new sitcom about William Shakespeare’s life, Upstart Crow, and features contributions from Catherine Tate, John Sessions, Fiona Shaw, Adam Long and Simon Russell-Beale.

Presenter/Matt Lucas, Producer/Hayley Redmond for Sue Clark Productions


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