Office romance: Venus and Adonis @RiversideLondon

As you enter the Riverside Studios, where Christopher Hunter is performing Shakespeare's epic poem, Venus and Adonis, Hunter is already there—sitting on a bench with his attaché case, wearing a suit and writing furiously. There are papers crumpled and tossed about. It's as if he is writing the piece from a 1990s office. All that's missing is the scream of the office fax (we heard phones ringing even though that wasn't part of the performance). 

Written by Shakespeare during the outbreak of the plague in 1592, it's considered to be Shakespeare's first work. It's an evocative piece about the Goddess of love and her attempts to attract the handsome and probably fit Adonis, who would prefer to go hunting. 

As performed by Hunter, the age-old tale of unrequited love takes surprising twists and turns in this epic poem. Starting as the piece's writer, he becomes the characters and immerses himself in the words. Consonants fly out at you, and the suffering, the spite, and the energy hit you. Even if you struggle to find meaning in old English, this piece leaves you without a doubt about the feelings conveyed. Blood, sweat, strength and tears serve as props to heighten the tension. 

First performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, this adaptation of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, directed by David Salter, is at the Riverside Studios until 21 May. 

Hopefully, this won't be the last time, and given the audience reaction, complete with standing ovations and rapturous applause, it would be a pity to miss it. A perfect piece to take a date you're ambivalent about.


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