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Sunday, 29 May 2016

A Library Theatre Performance

You know how much I love libraries; but you may not know I also love theatre. I do love acting and performing, but even more-so there is little I find as thrilling and magical as watching a performance. When I was younger I remember my dad taking me to amateur theatre productions quite often (I believe it’s one of the main reasons I love Shakespeare as I was watching it long before I had to study it at school), and pretty much every performance inspired me and made me think about or reconsider something important to life.

I didn’t ever expect these two passions of mine to come together (though admittedly where I used to live, the only theatre was in in the upstairs of the library, but they were still separate); so when I saw a theatre company was visiting a library near me, I jumped at the chance (and it’s a testament to my family that a few of them wanted to come with me). I didn’t really know what to expect as didn’t really know anything about the company Librarian Theatre or anything about the performance ‘The Book’s The Thing’ beyond that it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’.

I was blown away. 

With a cast of just 3, this incredibly innovative company reminded me just how much I love theatre. As it was in a library, it was a very intimate performance, with the cast directly addressing members of the audience (and giving props and clothes to those unlucky enough to catch their eye), and taking inspiration from their surroundings. This created a very strange and unique experience but really made you feel like part of the performance. Personally I just loved everything about it (and my family seemed to, too). The cast are incredibly talented, so it was easy most of the time to differentiate between characters. And while most of the script keeps the Shakespearean language, it was reworked in such a way to easily follow the story-line without as much back story babble you usually have to sit through. In short, I loved it (in case you couldn’t tell!), and I came away feeling inspired and excited.

The fact it was performed in a library was really the icing on the cake. I love going to the library and browsing the books (and undoubtedly borrowing a few despite the never-ending TBR piles around my home), and hate that due to cuts libraries are becoming more and more likely to shut. As a future (fingers-crossed) librarian, I do worry by the time I’m able to work, there either won’t be anywhere to work, or the entire job will be done by one or two people and the rest by machines, so that this theatre company has chosen to support local libraries by performing in them, really speaks to me. Libraries should be places of community, safety, and inspiration, where everyone is welcome and anyone can find something, and I strongly believe it is through companies like Librarian Theatre that libraries can reach their potential in offering so much more than books (not that there’s anything wrong with books of course).

‘The Book’s The Thing’ is currently in London I believe, but regardless if you missed this play (it’s now coming to the end of it, unfortunately I didn’t know about it for most of the tour), If you are in the UK I strongly recommend keeping an eye out on this new and unusual company Librarian Theatre as I can only imagine what they will come up with next.

[I was not asked to review this performance and I paid full-price, just wanted to share my views on it.]