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Theatre Review: Vice Versa @ The Royal Shakespeare Company


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“Eight weeks rehearsal these guys have had. You wouldn’t know it, would you?”

Words that you’d normally expect from a damning theatre critic, yet amazingly they make up the opening lines of the production’s leading lady. The Dexter (played by Sophia Nomvete), sighs before resuming her performance. “I’m meant to tell you the prologue, but if you’d been paying attention you’d already know it. That said, Plebs like you don’t always cotton on to these things, so let me tell you again.”

Vice Versa is a recently penned comedy, based on the Roman comedies of Plautus by Phil Porter. It tells the story of two young lovers as they try to flee Rome, where Voluptua (Ellie Beaven) and her servant Dexter is being held captive by the General (Felix Hayes). The resulting plot to escape involves heavy doses of farcical, slapstick, and downright saucy humour.  

Set against the backdrop and costume of the classic Italian capital, this is an all-out Roman romp complete with the odd song and dance thrown in for hilarity’s sake. The General travels around on a pimped-up mobility scooter, the locals shop at high street retailer “Marcus and Sparkus."

Make no mistake, this is not traditional Shakespeare. In fact, Vice Versa puts together all the best bits of Shakespeare without the complex language and heavy symbolism. There’s a monkey, but does he have any deep and meaningful purpose? No, of course not. He’s there to go “ooh ahh” and cause general mischief.

Whilst the basic plot is one which has been done many times before, the delivery and high quality of the acting is what makes the play great. If you’re prepared to put all rhyme and reason aside for one evening, you will not be disappointed.

For more information, including show times and tickets, you can visit the RSC’s website here.

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