By Bob Evans
Who doesn’t just absolutely love Shakespeare? Go ahead, raise your hand. Well, that was me years ago when I was so afraid of Shakespeare, but Scott Cox’s Fringe show erases most everyone’s fears as he performs his semi-autobiographical piece, “And God Did Shake the Pear: Shakespeare for Everyday Living.”
Near capacity crowds have flocked to the Just Off Broadway Theatre for this Fringe Festival for the string of strong productions that scream “See Me.” Cox’s show makes people laugh as he tells his history from early days to his current work as a theatre instructor and his work in Lansing Correctional Facility, teaching Shakespeare to inmates.
“And God Did Shake the Pear” zeroes in on words–specifically Shakespeare’s words. Even though Scott Cox extolls the virtues and meaning behind The Bard’s words, when reviewing this piece, adequate words fail me.
Fringers already know the show’s quality because they hear others talking and recommending it at other Fringe shows. Suffice it to say, this show spotlights Cox and his ability to pen some incredible words. Those who fear Shakespeare need not hesitate to get tickets. You have no idea how many words or phrases you know and use that are attributed to the Bard. Cox helps you by reciting a string of them. He also recites some famous passages and help ease Shakespearean fears.
Cox recants how his introduction to Shakespeare’s verse coincides with most people–a high school reading of such classics as Romeo and Juliet or Julius Caesar–read by students who do not understand or especially appreciate verse. Cox even recites Romeo’s famous soliloquy from the balcony scene but as a street-wise thug type. Expect to laugh.
Shakespeare’s words never sounded better and the interaction with Cox as he moves into and out of his Shakespeare passages is fun, surprising, and comic. Cox even reads a telephone book in a Shakespearean manner. It’s a hoot.
According to the Fringe website: “Dr. Scott Cox, founder and director of Living Shakespeare, a rehabilitative theatre program at Lansing Correctional Facility, believes that The Bard has answers to almost any question one can pose on the subject of life. In this solo performance, he combines the one-man-show he has been performing for twelve years with inspirational and humorous anecdotes from “inside the walls.” Prepare to be entertained, educated, and enlightened—and there may even be puppets. There will definitely be pears.”
As the show progresses, Cox tells his story of growing up, being introduced to theatre, and reads a passage from his PhD thesis about words, their importance, and Shakespeare. Interspersing personal passages between recited verse and commentary makes the performance personal, humorous, and insightful.
A high point of the show explains his stories about his development of the Living Shakespeare program at Lansing prison. Be advised the heart of the piece lies in Cox’s love of introducing people to Shakespeare.
While the show entertains, be prepared for the emotional journey through Cox’s life. And, by all means be ready to stand because he so rightly deserves a standing ovation. Even though his show deals with words, words fail me to prepare audiences for his performance.
“And God Did Shake the Pear” plays at the Just Off Broadway Theater with the final performance on Saturday (unless it wins the coveted Hangover Award for Best of Venue, thereby earning an extra performance on Sunday afternoon to compete for Best of Fringe).
To avoid shut out at the theatre, advance tickets insure your inclusion in this fantastic production. Tickets can be purchased online through the KC Fringe website.
Tags: KC Fringe Festival, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, “And God Did Shake the Pear: Shakespeare for Everyday Living”, And God Did Shake the Pear”, Just Off Broadway Theatre