Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe 2015

Soothplayers, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2015

0 Comments 01 October 2015

It’s the performance equivalent of attempting to solve a rubix cube blindfolded – an hour-long wholly improvised Shakespeare play, complete with Shakespearean language and themes. But miraculously, mind-bogglingly, delightfully, it’s one that Melbourne troupe Soothplayers pull off.

In their debut run for Melbourne Fringe, there’s no sense that the nascent improv troupe are struggling to find their feet. Taking the play’s title from an audience suggestion, and accompanied by the highly attentive Caleb Garfinkle on mandolin, the seven-strong ensemble swiftly and confidently set about spinning a tale in three acts – one that the bard himself might have spun.

In Tuesday evening’s performance, titled ‘Behead them’, the audience witnessed a Shakespearean tragedy worthy of the VCE booklist. Lord Ikea of Sweden plotted the overthrow of the tyrannical King of Denmark – himself with a proclivity for severing the head from the spine – to replenish the people’s dwindling reserves of furniture. Love, murder, revenge, talking crows: age-old themes shone through the narrative but were handled with an irreverence that was delightful.

The performance was laugh-out-loud funny, but the audience’s admiration ran deeper. The ensemble has at their disposal an accessibility and a richness of language that is rare: performer and troupe co-founder Adam Hembree’s opening soliloquy –complete with rhyme, it certainly could have been a Shakespearean sonnet – elicited as many gasps as it did laughs.

Even the ensemble’s loyalty to structure was impressive. Director Andrew Strano balances the creative whims of the performers with an adherence to traditional structure, creating a highly accessible piece of theatre.

Even for a non-Shakespeare loyal, Soothplayers is something to behold. Thou must see it at Fringe. Or on thy head be it.


Soothplayers will be at the Improv Conspiracy – Theatre from 26 Sep – 3 Oct, 6.30pm. Tickets $17-$20. For more information or to book tickets visit or call (03) 9660 9600.



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