Shakespeare For Breakfast / Shakespeare Up Late: A Right Royal Visit

Aug 17 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆   Charming and ★★★☆☆   Chaotic

Breakfast: C aurora (Venue 6): Wed 2 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Up Late: C aquila (Venue 21): Wed 2 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

C Theatre have two contrasting reworkings of the Bard in Shakespeare for Breakfast at C aurora and Shakespeare Up Late – A Right Royal Visit at C aquila. While there are differences in tone and intent between the two productions, they are not as marked as might be imagined.

Both have that rough and ready, ‘let’s do the show right here’ vibe that the fringe thrives on, with a cast of four eager performers, who throw themselves into everything with abandon and considerable ability.

Cameron Banks in Shakespeare For Breakfast. Pic: Kate Stephenson

While Breakfast is aimed at all ages (the official designation is ‘0+’), Up Late has a restriction of over 14. Yet, apart from the occasional use of ripe language, such as Banquo having the first letter of his name changed to a W, there is not much in Up Late that is truly adult. Indeed, there are a couple of gags in the early show that are far nearer the knuckle than the occasionally juvenile humour in the late-night offering.

Breakfast’s reworking of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has quite a lot of the original. Some of it – like Oberon and Titania being hosts on a version of Love Island – fails to convince, but most of it works.


The story of the four young lovers – Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius – particularly impresses. These scenes benefit from the most considered and expansive of Kosi Carter’s direction, in a production that otherwise features too many occasions of the cast simply standing and looking at the audience.

Clare Louise Roberts and Tomas Barry in Shakespeare For Breakfast. Pic: Kate Stephenson

Claire Louise Roberts and Katie Gourlay are particularly good as Hermia and Helena, with their exchanges as strong as any more conventional version of the play. Both, like the other cast members, perform a variety of roles with good humour. Tomas Barry has a particular flair for comedy, always stopping himself from going too far over the top, while Cameron Banks has a nice line in wounded dignity.

Sometimes the humour is a little forced and obvious – for example, those double entendres should be allowed to stand on their own, rather than subsequently pointing out that children won’t understand them. However, the production is pitched just right for a morning audience (including the coffee and croissant) and, after 30 years, the concept shows no sign of flagging.

chaotic and anarchic

Late’s loose adaptation of Macbeth, by comparison, is chaotic and anarchic. The plot is almost impossible to follow, veers off from the original in all directions and does not really even end.

Jamie Richard Stewart in Shakespeare Up Late: A Right Royal Visit. Pic: Kate Stephenson

Aside from a cruelly accurate impersonation of King Charles (from Jamie Richard Stewart), the topical content does not really work. Simply mentioning unexplained camper vans, drugs policy or ferry contracts, without thinking about what point you are making and why, is not necessarily biting political satire.

However, the plot is secondary in a production that has the energy and freewheeling nature of improv even though the cast (usually) know where they are going. Tom Blackmore’s direction harnesses that energy effectively, with Oliver Byng and Mary Jensik providing much of the spark.

serves to confuse

Arlene McKay, meanwhile, provides the central characterisation – part Macbeth, part Lady Macbeth, part First Minister – in a way that holds it all together.

The audience participation, like most of the rest of it, simply serves to confuse, but it still manages to entertain.

Depending on whether you are a morning or a night person, either of these would do if you are looking for something that is not necessarily profound but provides laughs.

Breakfast: Running time: One hour (no interval)
C aurora (Main House), Lauriston Halls, 28 Lauriston Street, EH3 9DJ (Venue 6)
Wednesday 2 – Sunday 27 August 2023
Daily (not 14) at 10.00 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

Up Late: Running time: 40 minutes (no interval)
C aquila (Temple), Roman Eagle Lodge, 2 Johnston Terrace, EH1 2PW (Venue 21)
Wednesday 2 – Sunday 27 August 2023
Daily (not 14) at 10.40 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

C Theatre website:

Facebook: @CtheatreEdinburgh

Arlene McKay and Mary Jensik in Shakespeare Up Late: A Right Royal Visit. Pic: Kate Stephenson



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