EFR - Reviews of Charlie Dupré Presents: The Stories of Shakey P

Charlie Dupré Presents: The Stories of Shakey P

Thu 9th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Jessica Reid

at 00:01 on 13th Aug 2012

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'Charlie Dupré Presents: The Stories of Shakey 'P was confusing. Dupré’s performance left me baffled as to whether he was attempting to be an actor, a stand-up comedian or a storyteller – or none of the above. The description of his show as a ‘lecture’ and a ‘history lesson’ did not enlighten me: while he certainly looks the part of a teacher, if Hollywood is anything to go by, his script contained little factual content and far too much swearing to be aimed at children.

The show seems to consist of his individual rap summaries of various Classical plays – several by Shakespeare and also Marlowe’s Dr Faustus. He has also imagined a rap argument between the two playwrights, set in their school playground over breaktime. The play summaries were verbally impressive and there were numerous witty rhymes and Dupré was extremely articulate. However, he usually failed to be laugh-out-loud funny, dramatic or evoke any strong emotion. I was also not entirely convinced by the clash between Shakesperean English and modern lexis – it highlighted the stylistic confusion of his show, rather than enhanced the humour.

The best play summary of the show is the one of 'Othello'. With the most varied and developed characterisation it was the most engaging and funny section. The problem was that, in the majority of the show, Dupré failed to be truly enthralling. He repeatedly played the same two personas: the first being a young man, full of bravado but actually possessed by angst and insecurity; the second being an evil, hysterical, cross-eyed creature. Whilst he played these roles well, it became repetitive. He had a good range of accents and maintained amazing eye contact: could he not create a more diverse range of characters? After all, he had the whole of Shakespeare’s repertoire to choose from.

Dupré is an endearing performer. He is clearly putting a lot of effort into his show and attempts to be entertaining at all times. His improvised rap interlude – where he makes a rap song using three words of the audience’s choice (in this case, ‘aubergine’, ‘haberdashery’ and ‘arras’) - was perhaps the strongest moment as he was just himself being funny and creative with language. I enjoyed the show and, as it is free, it is definitely worth a look. However, I hope that Dupré will revise his acts in order to make them punchier and more dramatically engaging. It would also be improved by creating more seamless links between the sections, in order for the show to have a clearer sense of genre and style.

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Emma Yandle

at 10:57 on 13th Aug 2012

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Charlie Dupré seems like a really nice guy. He certainly has a talent for performance, with a winning smile, a powerful voice and ability to spit out rhymes at breakneck speed. A London-based MC and performance poet, you can tell he’s good at what he’s doing and it’s a shame that his material didn’t quite live up to his ability to deliver it.

The premise of his show is that Shakespeare and rap are fundamentally similar. It’s an apt connection which he goes on to prove by pointing out the rhythms in a line of iambic pentameter by rapping it. This was a refreshing take on an author who has been done to death, but unfortunately the poetic raps themselves weren’t quite as good as the idea. Rather than going on to rap out Shakespeare’s verse, or re-phrase the big soliloquies in street slang he mostly just rapped and rhymed the plot-lines of plays such as ‘Othello’, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘Hamlet’. If a modern day Roald Dahl did re-tellings of Shakespeare this is probably how they would go. They were sometimes funny and littered with great words, but mostly a bit fluffy and not really the “electrifying lyrical brew” his flyer promised.

A piece that stood out was a soliloquy from the eponymous Othello, done in the style of Eminem’s ‘Stan’. Not only was this pushing past the obviousness of his other works, but included some really clever call backs to the text of the play: a line about Desdemona being the only thing that’s keeping Othello sane calls back to (to an English Lit. student at least) “And when I love thee not,/ Chaos is come again”. It was wonderfully subtle and and I’m sure there were other similar moments that I missed. The definite highlight was the opening rap battle between Shakespeare and Marlowe. Charlie Dupré seems to have a soft spot for Marlowe, who really got screwed over by history in having Shakespeare as a contemporary. Alongside the other pieces he includes a rap based on Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’ and kudos to him for giving that excellent play a bit more popular coverage.

Overall a pleasing mixture of high and low culture and a fine rendering of a clever idea. Although not as good as I hoped it would be it’s certainly impressive to have written an hour’s worth of performance poetry and Charlie Dupré’s probably got the best vocabulary you’ll find on the Fringe.

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