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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 Sheldrake on Shakespeare: Live!

📍 Barons Court Theatre, 28a Comeragh Road, London, W14 9HR

🗓 Sunday 23rd July 2023


Last night I was back at Barons Court Theatre for the final preview of Sheldrake on Shakespeare: Live! before it heads to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month.

I personally have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the works of Shakespeare. I love some plays and loathe others! Because of this it's fair to say that I entered the theatre with a bit of trepidation.

I was immediately intrigued when I realised that the songs playing were from musicals inspired by plays written by The Bard, such as West Side Story. As a huge musical theatre fan this instantly pricked my interest.

Performed by James Sheldrake and based on his podcast Sheldrake on Shakespeare, this is not a play but rather a mixture of a lecture and a stand-up comedy routine and this format worked incredibly well. A former English teacher who's now running away to join the circus, Sheldrake obviously has a huge love for the works and his passion for the subject shines through.

I enjoyed the way the piece had been structured with Sheldrake essentially talking us through his ideal imaginary dinner party guests from the huge catalogue of Shakespearean characters. We learn of his relationship with the works through comical reflections of his youth and his history of acting in some of the plays. Always being typecast, this performance is his revenge on his previous directors!

I enjoyed the way he would go off on tangents throughout, and he was completely engaging from start to finish. He was also incredibly funny and managed to work in a few satirical jokes too, which made the piece seem fresh.

The piece is not long at all, but Sheldrake manages to cram in a lot in the time and is never boring. His quips about The Scottish Play and whether or not the superstition of saying Macbeth aloud in the theatre 3 times is nonsense were witty as were his descriptions of the fact that there was no standardised spellings in Shakespeare's time and there were printing errors too which lead to some unintentionally funny lines such as "White bears have armed themselves" in Richard II!

His wonderfully explicit thoughts on potential letters that could be found written to and from Shakespeare was probably one of my favourite parts of the piece. There was a likability to Sheldrake that had the audience on side from the start. It's very true to say that you don't necessarily need to have a wealth of knowledge about the works of Shakespeare to enjoy this show.

The show has the tagline What Keith Floyd was to food this show is to Shakespeare and I'd say that's a pretty spot-on statement, although I don't think that Sheldrake had been drinking before the performance! Even the alliteration in the title Sheldrake on Shakespeare was inspired by Floyd.

Sheldrake on Shakespeare will be playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from the 4th - 12th August and is well worth a watch if you're going this year. Head to for tickets. It's essentially an easy and enjoyable watch which I would highly recommend.

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being open and honest.

My ticket for this performance was gifted by James Sheldrake who invited me to watch the show and to give my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the star rating given or the content of my review.


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