SHAKESPEARE CLASSICS STAGED AT BROOKHOUSE
By Margaretta wa Gacheru
How ambitious can any director be to stage three adapted Shakespeare plays in a single evening! For even if they are adapted to suit a half-hour format, and even if all three plays are drastically summarized and the English simplified, still, Shakespeare’s storylines are not all that easy to follow.
But however formidable the challenge of staging Shakespeare with actors whose ages range from 10 to 12 years old (class 6 and 7), it didn’t daunt Michelle Forsyth, the head of primary classes (also known as ’prep’) at Brookhouse School in Karen.
During the school ‘Arts Week’, Ms Forsyth staged Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream last Tuesday night in the school’s beautiful auditorium. She was assisted by Camen McComic and Lynn Herderson for Midsummer Night and Christine Patterson for Romeo and Juliet. But still, all three plays had to get the nod of approval from Ms Forsyth.
Refreshingly, the first play, Romeo and Juliet started exactly on time, and each play ran precisely for 30 minutes with a brief ten minute intermission after Macbeth. This in itself was a remarkable achievement since Nairobi plays still have that tendency not to start on time.
All three plays had massive casts; nonetheless, the leads who had the most substantial parts were the best rehearsed and clearest in the articulation of their lines. It was true of Romeo (Stephanie Kamau) and Juliet (Nolwazi Ndlovu), Macbeth (Daniel Gichuru) and his naughty Lady (Solange Gathu) as well as King Duncan (Ibrahim Mughal) and his son Malcolm (Elliot Plumbe), and in Midsummer Night’s Dream, the clearest and most gracefully expressive was Puck (Arielle Plumbe).
Ms Forsyth was wise not to bother with complicated sets, especially given the Bard’s tales were allowed to move quickly from one scene and setting to the next without the encumbrance of time-consuming set changes.
Nonetheless, costuming was something that had been given some serious thought, as when King Duncan (Ibrahim Mughal) came out in Macbeth draped in an elegant vesture that was indeed fit for a king.
In all there were over 80 children in Brookhouse’s Shakespearean plays this week, which in itself was a feat in superlative school discipline. The one shortcoming in the shows was an occasional problem of inaudibility, but that’s an issue easily rectified as the youth have more opportunities on stage, which looks like a real possibility from the looks of the school’s serious commitment to the performing arts.