Michael Hurst brought back the Shakespearean derivative No Holds Bard for two performances last weekend after blowing away audiences last year. Photo Robert Catto

Shakespeare. Think about it for a second. Think of a couple of words describing the Englishman’s work. I bet you it will not describe the No Holds Bard play at Artworks last Friday.
It was anything but classical. It was anything but dull. It was a contemporary, extraordinary and mindboggling play bringing together a few of the famous Shakespeare stories by Michael Hurst.
It couldn’t have been more than five minutes in before the first laughs and giggles sounded among the sold-out audience. And it made sense, because as the lights lit up the stage, a stubby man wearing tights, a big puffy hat and what could have been women’s shoes stood centre stage with a gun against his temple.
Michael Hurst convinced me that an inner struggle went on within him. The humorous tragedy that was No Holds Bard was about a troubled man who no longer wanted to live. His troubles manifested in a schizophrenic belief that he was characters from Shakespeare’s tragedies Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello and King Lear.
On the one hand, the gruesome Macbeth with his Scottish accent tried to bully him into finishing it off, while on the other hand, the bewildered Hamlet wasn’t sure what to do.
It takes a great actor to pull off such a story, and Michael Hurst excelled. I sat on the edge of my seat for the full hour and even jumped a few times.
It isn’t easy choosing a part to favour over the others, but I did have a darling moment. When the inner struggle came to be an actual physical struggle on stage, I was baffled. And I still am. Because Michael Hurst managed to fight himself on stage without me wondering how. It was persuasive and marvelous.
Even now, days later, I think about this play. The reviews of this play are not overrated. It was something way out of the ordinary. And if I could, I would watch it over and over again. • Emma Haas

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