Imagine if Shakespeare wrote the cult favourite movie Ghostbusters. Same inherent storyline – fighting poltergeists in New York City – but what would it have sounded and looked like if the dialogue had been written by the Bard? Well, wonder no more, because if you visit The Motley Bauhaus in Carlton you can get to experience that very thing. And from an audience perspective, it is arguably among the most fun you can have sitting down.
Hijinks abound as a new ghostbusting agency takes shape, initially without clients. But, as the spectres come out to play and wreak havoc, the need for these paranormal eliminators grows. So much so, that it necessitates an additional recruit. Now fret not. If you are like me and never studied Shakespeare at school and struggle with the Old English, the substance (such that it is) of the work will still not be lost on you.
And with choice lines such as “Art thou vexed by strange noises in the mid of the night?” and “How now interdimensional cow”, what could possibly go wrong? It is laugh a minute material, with the narrator Rik Brown (who briefly doubles as the Mayor) urging attendees to show their heartfelt appreciation. Part of the joy is not just the over the top, collegiate antics of the fun-loving cast. Incidentally, that includes the show’s director Rob Lloyd (as Dr Ray Stantz) and seven others (five of whom fill multiple roles).
The delight extends to the sound and lighting design by Sandro Falce. Cue the immediately recognisable Ghostbusters’ theme song and other popular fancies. And, critically important, is the puppetry (the ghouls are, indeed, grand creations), props (think Ghostbusters’ proton backpacks) and costuming with Ghostbusters’ insignia. Donna Prince and Cassandra Hart take a bow.
Shakespeare Ghostbusters was written and originally performed by a Toronto-based improv/sketch comedy troupe, The Coincidence Men. Their show at Toronto Fringe in 2017 also saw Melbourne-based outfit The Ghostlight League in attendance. They went on to perform Shakespeare Aliens. In short, the latter was about crossing the popular horror sci-fi movie with the voice of the English master of language.
It was only fitting then that The Ghostlight League got the cast and crew together again for Shakespeare Ghostbusters, another pop culture mash up. With a running time of 80 minutes and playing at The Motley Bauhaus until 4th November, 2023, it revels in its silliness and we, the patrons, are the beneficiaries.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) – theatre review
- As You Like It – theatre review
- Shakespeare in Love (MTC) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.