Tears of laughter for Baked Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona

Jake Maisel, James Stoffberg, Sarah Lazarus

IMAGINE if you applied for a job and one of the requirements is “must smoke weed”. First of all, that’s a whole lot better than many (all) job offers I have seen, and secondly, it will surely lead to fun, hilarity and all-round good vibes. Which is exactly what happens at Baked Shakespeare’s productions. Plus a bit of chaos for good measure.

We went to see The Two Gentlemen of Verona at The Outlore Base last weekend and it is without a doubt one of the funniest things I have encountered in a long while. In fact I can barely recall when last I laughed so much; I was literally crying, actual tears – and when I say “literally” I mean it. Oh to be sure, it’s one of the Bard’s comedies but wait, there’s a twist…

Erin Gemmell, Laura Kelly

Before the play begins, audience members are given tokens to put into envelopes with each cast member’s name and photo (a perfect opportunity for mischief if you know them). The two with the most tokens are then nominated to perform stoned. Five paddles are handed out to random audience members, each of whom can yell “FIE!” at any time – beginning, middle, end, any scene, even immediately one after each other (more mischief if you are so inclined). At which point, proceedings are halted and a crew member comes out bearing a tray with two large bongs. The chosen actors then take generous hits and continue. I was very pleased when my friend in possession of a paddle used it before even the first line was spoken.

Jake Maisel, Sarah Lazarus

It begins relatively under control but that soon deteriorates deliciously as the actors get progressively more stoned. Characters slide, lines are forgotten, the fourth wall crumbles. There is as much laughter on stage (from all the cast, not just the stoned ones) as there is from the audience. In the end, the actual play is not even that important but in this case, its farcical nature certainly helps.

Part of the beauty of all this is that you can go see the play as many times as you want because each time is going to be a different experience for all involved. What will be consistent though, is the side-splitting mirth and merriment. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Erin Gemmell, Jake Maisel

The Outlore Base is a blank canvas for performance, through a nondescript door in Hout Street, and up a lot of stairs, which hosts a variety of off-beat and alternative shows. Welcome news is that it now has its liquor licence, and there’s a beautiful rooftop balcony. The other good thing about this particular no frills show – for which there is barely a set to speak of, minimal props and costumes are casual – is that tickets are affordable. Baked Shakespeare appeals unashamedly to a fresh young audience, and if this is a way to get them to the theatre and to expose them to this kind of thing, then I’m all for it. It’s probably even funnier if you yourself are stoned, just a thought.

  • Where: The Outlore Base, 80 Hout Street, Cape Town
  • When: Thursdays to Saturdays until June 1, 8pm (then The Courtyard Cafe in Stellies on June 8 and 15)
  • How much: R120 – R150 via Quicket
  • Talk to: Jake Maisel at [email protected], +27 83 749 5127 (phone calls), Whatsapp +44 736 618 0627
  • Social media: @baked_shakespeare on Instagram and TikTok

Read more here.

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