Theatre review: High on Much Ado About Nothing with Baked Shakespeare, Kalk Bay, Cape Town, August 2021

 What: Much Ado about Nothing, by Baked Shakespeare Where: Olympia Café (in the bakery behind the café), 134 Main Rd, Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7975 When: Aug 7- 28 at 7.30pm Tickets: R120 Booking: Age restriction: No under 18s Info about Baked Shakespeare: @baked_shakespeare or or @juliette_r.i    

It was huge fun to be at the opening, last night, August 7, 2021, of Baked Shakespeare- Much Ado About Nothing, at The Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay, Cape Town. The format is quirky and brings terrific energy to the Bard. Baked Shakespeare, was conceived by Jake Maisel who is a UCT drama student.  He was inspired by Drunk Shakespeare which he saw in New York in 2018.  In Drunk Shakespeare, a cast member gets drunk, during the performance. This alters the pace. The other actors in the ensemble, proceed according to plot and what has been rehearsed but the inebriated actor may divert, according to an altered grip of reality.  With Baked Shakespeare, one of the actors partakes of marijuana. The actor is cued in to take a hit of weed by people in the audience, who are tasked to raise baguettes in the air- to indicate that another whiff of the bong is required. Baked Shakespeare is being performed in a bakery. Loaves of bread are used as prompts which lead to the actor getting cooked- from weed.

The Baked Shakespeare company of young creatives is terrific – teasing out nuances from Much Ado About Nothing – two couples – mating, wooing, playing games. There are lies, deception and kind of a happy ending with two weddings. Every time I see this play – Shakespeare’s most popular comedy – more is revealed. The Bard’s writing taps into universal themes, which are timeless: Love – loyalty- friendship – happiness- we all yearn for that. 

This was my first theatre outing since the Delta variant brought the curtain down on live performance. Rona is still very much on the boil, but vaccinations in place, masks on and we are hoping for the best. In my opinion, at the moment, “safe” is a difficult moment to call. Whether to go to restaurants, to shop, or the theatre (or not) is a personal choice. I choose to take a measured risk, under certain conditions, but if you see me, please don’t hug me. Hugging is a no-no, during these strange days. 

Bravo to Jake Maisel and the company for a huge amount of work put into this show-design, lighting, sound. The women wear converse sneakers with long dresses-very cool.  Each performance will be different as a different actor takes on the weed. Some of the actors are studying at UCT; two are recent graduates and Romy Weisler is residing in Cape Town, while she studies by remote, during the pandemic. At a time, when live performance has been decimated, here we have a young company, creating independent work and creating a platform to bring a fresh take on the Bard which has elements of audience participation and makes for an entertaining evening at the theatre.  It takes the Bard to new highs – with moments of stoned out performance- adding spontaneity and surprise.

✳ Pics from the opening -August 7, 2021. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen. Related coverage of Baked Shakespeare’s, Much Ado About Nothing:

Shakespeare on a high: Jake Maisel getting a hit of marijuana (weed, pot- whatever you want to call it), in Baked Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, opening show, August 7, 2021, in the bakery at The Olympia Cafe. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

Baked Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothingcreative team and credits

Andrew Munnik
Dramaturg: Geoffrey Hyland
Adaption: Jake Maisel

Performers: Adam Fagan, Tariq Haffegee, Brett Ilsley, Jock Kleynhans, Jake Maisel, Evan Marinakos, Garrick Pagel, Megan Tromp and Rommy Weisler ends