copy_ Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare

Created 2023

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A salt and pepper pot for the king and queen. A vase for the prince. A matchbox for the servant. A toilet roll tube for the Innkeeper. A water bottle for the messenger.

In Complete Works six performers create condensed versions of all of the Shakespeare plays, comically and intimately retelling them, using a collection of everyday objects as stand-ins for the characters on the one metre stage of an ordinary table top.

Forced Entertainment have long had an obsession with virtual or described performance, exploring in different ways over the years the possibilities of conjuring extraordinary scenes, images and stories using language alone. In a brand new direction for the group, Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare explores the dynamic force of narrative in relation to Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, histories and late plays. What follows is simple and idiosyncratic, absurd and strangely compelling as, through a kind of lo-fi, home-made puppetry, the stories of the plays really do come to life in vivid miniature.

Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works is the first time they’ve approached dramatic literature and the Shakespearean legacy. The result is a kind of levelling of the plays – a gently comic re-casting of them via objects from the kitchen cabinet and grocery store shelves – as well as a celebration of their power as stories, and the act of storytelling and theatre itself.


Conceived and devised by the company.

Director Tim Etchells
Devised and performed by Robin Arthur, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor
Text Robin Arthur, Tim Etchells, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor
Design Richard Lowdon
Sound & Lighting Design Jim Harrison
Production Management Jim Harrison

Complete Works is a Forced Entertainment production. Co-produced by Berliner Festspiele – Foreign Affairs Festival Berlin and Theaterfestival Basel. Touring of the Complete Works project in 2016 is kindly supported by the British Council

Thanks to the Royal Shakespeare Company which commissioned Be Stone No More by Tim Etchells in 2012 for the World Shakespeare Festival – an early, development version of this project, as well as to the people who participated in that phase of the work