Firm Fringe favourites and multi-award-winning The Shakespeare Jukebox returned to the Pavilion Gardens last evening.
For those of you not familiar with the format, a group of players from Buxton Drama League perform a range of popular scenes from the Bard's work. There is a 'playlist' on a chalkboard; just make a donation and select your favourite and the team will act out the scene. Last night's selection offered a choice of 18 scenes, and no matter how many times I watch the Jukebox in action, I am always impressed by how they switch from one play to another and character to character without a mis-step.
Despite the thunder storm just minutes before the start and steady drizzle for the first 15 minutes, the players threw themselves into the action (and on occasion onto the sodden ground as required). Last night's scenes included excerpts from Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest, Macbeth, Henry V as well as A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. As usual the players started with the ever-popular witches from Macbeth with the audience encouraged to join in the 'chorus' of 'Double Double' - the audience loved it.
All the players deliver their lines with great panache and passion. They display great skill and agility as they switch from character to character with just a few props and the addition of a hat or sword to change the scenes. There were some very funny tongue-in-cheek moments between mum Jayne and daughter Elyse, with Elyse coming off worse as the hapless messenger to Jayne's 'patient' (read hopping mad) Cleopatra. Not to be outdone, Robbie switched from serious menace as Richard III to hammy, protracted dying in the Rude Mechanicals, and Maria moved from lovelorn maid in As You Like It to havoc-causing lion in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The audience and casual passers-by were soon caught up in the open air fun with money being dropped in the bucket all going to support Buxton Samaritans.
Watching the Jukebox is always an enjoyable way to while away a summer's evening (despite the rain) and is sure to provide great fun for all the family.
So don't miss their next performances on 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd July at 6.15 on the Promenade Pavilion Gardens. Also you can watch their online scenes at www.buxtondramaleague.co.uk/shakespeare-jukebox-2023 and please support this worthwhile charity at https://samaritanscommunity.enthuse.com/pf/shakespeare-jukebox-2023
Old Haunts is an innovative way of bringing the history of Buxton’s Spring Gardens to life, in the form of a walking tour enlivened by an entertaining audio story.
Starting at the Buxton Pump Room, the listener is encouraged to download the Old Haunts app and, having activated it, is introduced to an earnest historian, Matt (Michael Grady-Hall) who wants to present the facts of Buxton’s past, and his sister Claire (Suzanne McGrail) who takes a more fanciful approach, as she talks about the ghosts who have their own stories to tell. As the walk progresses and the listener is taken from point to point, these ghosts interrupt proceedings, voiced by local actors.
Right from the off, I found I was learning new things about a street I know so well – I never knew, for example, that the stretch of street from Clark’s shoes to the old Grove Hotel was originally a Crescent to mirror its more famous neighbour. The script by Tom Crawshaw and Alice de Cent is informative, educational and witty and the relationship of the bantering siblings well realized.
Unfortunately, on my listening to the tour, I experienced technical difficulties which meant that I was not able to complete it, whether due to glitches in the program, my own technical issues or the vagaries of Buxton’s wifi I’m not sure. However, I will certainly give it another go, and attempt to complete it another day, as there’s much to learn and enjoy.
More than anything Old Haunts shows how much the shopping street has changed – and continues to change. Even in the time since it was recorded, shops mentioned in the walk have gone out of business or changed names, a testament to the ephemeral and mayfly nature of the businesses that surround us all the time.