Review by Carly Fisher
When you think of stories like The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night, you also think of Queer punk rock musicals with a pirate flair…right?
Well, you may not but the very clever team behind Antonio! From Butch Mermaid Productions did and it has led to a vibrant, passionate and extremely fun filled musical taking the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Essentially making up the stories between Shakespeare’s play and focusing on the most misunderstood of his love interests, the team has written a show filled with catchy new songs and great storytelling between to fill out Antonio’s story.
William Duignan takes on the titular character and offers a expert mix of sultry, powerful performance with well executed characterisation.The consummate lead singer for the band, Duignan really shines through his comedic timing and awesome ability to be so playful with each of his co-stars.
Music Director Andy Manning gives one of the funniest performances through their solo song but also one of the most eye catching to watch throughout as they absolutely smash total power on the keys. Manning has found the perfect balance of their role as MD and as one of The Fools on stage - fabulous performance.
Ania Upstill is an incredibly dynamic performer - obviously a talented musician (honestly the whole band is so good), Upstill is so enjoyable to watch perhaps mostly because you can see how much they genuinely love doing this show. I cannot express how contagious the joy is when you watch a performer on stage that you know is incredibly passionate and powerfully authentic.
Felix Crossley-Pritchard jumps across a number of characters and in doing so, gets an opportunity to showcase his comedic skills often. Crossley-Pritchard also has the emotional belt in the show which shows of his voice nicely.
Finally, Evan Michael Smith is a total powerhouse and commands the stage. Find me someone else who makes playing a Tamborine look that good…I’ll wait…
Special sound out to Milo Robinson for the excellent costuming - some of the most innovative work I’ve seen in the way of costuming at the fringe so far.
What I liked most about this show is that you could sense how much of an Ensemble piece it is and as such, how great the group dynamic is. The energy was high, the comedy spot on (special shout out to the portrait of Shakespeare…so good!!), the musicality is strong and the audience clearly was SO into it - what more is there to say, really?
The only thing that was not perfectly picked in my opinion was the venue - the room was simply too small for the sound levels and at times some of the lyrics got lost in a heavy base that was just too loud for the intimacy of the room. I think that a show like this needs a bit more space to really breathe and to better engross the audience.
This is a fantastic show for fringe festivals - I definitely hope that the team is considering touring it as such. I am sure that it will find its fan base amongst the fests!