As a part of the Star Wars day (May the 4th), The Show Must Go Online have turned their attention away from their weekly recreations of William Shakespeare’s plays in favour of joining the festivities. In a short amount of time, the global group of actors and creatives have brought to life excerpts from Ian Doescher’s incongruous medley, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, through the medium of Zoom with whatever props and costume they have to hand. The result is a charming and incredibly entertaining piece of online theatre that celebrates the phenomenon that is Star Wars.
Introduced by Rob Myles, The Show Must Go Online’s Director, and Dr Stephen Purcell of the University of Warwick, the pair discuss the links between Shakespeare’s works and the Star Wars series, as well as their place in popular culture. The show then begins proper, with Doescher himself taking the role of the chorus to deliver the famous Star Wars opening crawl – in true dramatic fashion – while slowly ascending his staircase backwards. It is a tongue-in-cheek homage to a significant piece of popular culture that perfectly sets the tone for what is to come.
While only a few short scenes are performed, they are all incredibly well-executed. Doescher’s utilisation of Shakespearean devices such as iambic pentameter and dramatic monologues lend themselves perfectly to the narrative of Star Wars, and the cast’s familiarity with such material shines through. Moreover, it’s a testament to all involved how much these techniques add to the original script. Bill Bingham excellently portrays Obi-Wan Kenobi despite the limitations of his webcam, and his monologues and asides to the audience add a more manipulative side to the character than would initially seem apparent. Likewise, there’s a brilliance to Eugenia Low’s realisation of R2-D2. Adorned in face paint and a comically large ruff, she provides the expected beeps and squeaks while also offering insights through a monologue that is an incredibly humorous turn of events.
Despite the limitations of a self-isolated cast and crew using Zoom to broadcast the performance, these do not limit their ambition or ingenuity for stagecraft. Cut-outs of the Millennium Falcon bob across the screen to establish scenes, bookends and cardboard stand in for the iconic TIE-Fighter windows, and a winning combination of a sock and apple even bring the Dianoga to life in true Hensonian fashion. As The Show Must Go Online’s prop master, Emily Ingram, notes in the after-show Q&A: some of the best science fiction is low-budget, and that is certainly the case here. It all contributes to a quirky and delightful tribute to Star Wars. While there are some technical hitches as a result of connectivity issues, these problems are to be expected and never detract from the full product. If anything, it only adds to the charm.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is a short-lived but highly enjoyable production that deftly pays homage to its source material. It’s a shame that Disney are so stringent with the rights to perform the play, as a full production would no doubt be fantastic. In the meantime, this production is truly a force to be reckoned with.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars can be streamed here
The Show Must Go Online perform weekly productions of William Shakespeare’s plays in the order they were believed to be written. Find plays already performed here.