Hero is dead.
The funeral only hours away, those strange circumstances of her sudden expiration hang in the air - are the rumours about Hero to be trusted? The beacon-like coffin attracts three lonely souls: fiancé Claudio, wracked with grief and guilt; cousin Beatrice, acid-tongued, hungry for satisfaction; notorious playboy Benedick, burning for the game, smart-phone clasped close. Desperate to atone and do one last thing for Hero, Claudio focusses on his fellow ghouls - he will bring this prickly pair together.
Using only Shakespeare's original text, David Fairs re-orchestrates Much Ado About Nothing into this new, alternative dark comedy - a juicy, messy, intimate farce. Benedick and Beatrice are legendary, their intense battles of wit hilarious and sparkling - but slice deeper: is there something rotten at the heart of the Merry War…?
I Know You Of Old
by David Fairs, from William Shakespeare
an alternative Much Ado About Nothing
After their 2016 success Macbeths, GOLEM! returned to The Hope Theatre in 2017 with another reimagined and repurposed adaptation, flipping one of Shakespeare's best loved comedies into a digital age, David Lynch inflected tragifarce. I Know You Of Old was most recently revived in 2018 at The RSC's Dell, followed by a one-night-only performance at Katzpace
Cast and Creatives: The Hope 2017
Simon Gethin Thomas
RSC Dell & Katzpace 2018
Preview interview features about the show:
With Tom Hartwell for London Fringe Podcast (podcast interview with Anna Marsland and David Fairs):
With Liz Dyer for TheatreThings (preview interview with Anna Marsland and David Fairs):
With Daniel Perks for Culture By Night (preview interview with Anna Marsland and David Fairs):
With Marianna Meloni for Everything Theatre (preview interview with Anna Marsland and David Fairs):
TheatreThings - Liz Dyer
'I Know You Of Old stands confidently on its own two feet... Even more compelling – and certainly more intriguing – than its source material.'
'(GOLEM!) aren’t being disrespectful, but instead demonstrating the astonishing versatility and enduring relevance of the words written so many
'Anna Marsland brings the story bang up to date'
'One of the most enjoyable aspects of Anna Marsland’s production is itsextraordinary attention to detail.'
'I Know You Of Old is an astonishing achievement'
'David Fairs has succeeded because he’s used the opportunity to tackle some of the unfinished business in Shakespeare’s work '
'this is not a gratuitous ripping up of a classic, but rather a fitting and respectful complement to the original'
'a gripping new tale which can be enjoyed by Shakespeare fans and newbies alike'
The Stage - Dave Fargnoli
'Condensing and repurposing Shakespeare’s original text, writer David Fairs discovers a much blacker comedy at the heart of Much Ado About Nothing.'
'Fairs’ textual collaging is assured, revelling in Shakespeare’s language even as he explores some unexpected implications'
'As Benedick, Fairs dangerous charm slowly dissolves into poisonous spite as he spars with Lambie’s flippant and ferocious Beatrice. Their burgeoning romance is fiery, heartfelt, and intensely awkward all at once. Caught between them, Conor O’Kane plays the duped Claudio with unrestrained exuberance, confidently rattling through his lines at great speed, and losing none of the intention'
'Director Anna Marsland shrewdly fills the production with resonant modern touches. Besotted Benedick stalks Beatrice on Facebook. Claudio’s humiliation of Hero is captured in grainy camera phone footage. Her setting, meanwhile, resembles a renaissance church as decorated by David Lynch – with a vivid crimson carpet, garish drapes, and the sound of vaguely menacing jazz in the air'
'The lighting, by Simon Gethin Thomas, is equally atmospheric, drenching the space in shadows while subtle directional spots lead the eye at key moments. Hero’s coffin lays beneath a lacy shroud, bathed in pure white light, an unchanging focal point to this transformed story'
The Play's The Thing - Laura Kressly
‘David Fairs rips apart Shakespeare’s script to create a totally new story with Shakespeare’s verse and characters, I Know You of Old. Paying homage to Shakespeare’s genius but not slavishly binding themselves to it, Golem! sticks up two fingers at Shakespeare purists who, with quivering voices, clutch their pearls and gasp, “But the text!” This is a contemporary story more like a soap opera, with a decidedly less happy outcome than the original play, delivered in the form of a surprising narrative twist. This bold, relationship-driven drama has… barnstorming performances and a script that toys with audience expectations…both disarming and compelling.’
'Conor O’Kane is an astounding Claudio – totally heartfelt, his grief is devastating to behold. Raw, unrestrained and utterly captivating, O’Kane deserves to be the Next Big Thing. That’s not to say Fairs and Sarah Lambie aren’t excellent as Benedick and Beatrice – they absolutely are. The latter have a tense, sparky relationship prone to spontaneous short circuiting that is both great fun and darkly edgy. Fairs makes a most detestable villain with nods to Iago and Richard III.'
'Fairs’ work is an important contribution to Shakespeare practice…To create an entirely new play using only Shakespeare’s text demonstrates the timelessness and robustness of the language, characters and themes. This is Shakespeare fan fic executed with care, skill and panache. More, please!’
I Thank You Theatre - Paul Joyce
'What is so striking about David Fair’s clever recasting of Much Ado... is that it’s more of a remix than an extrapolation along the lines of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Whilst those two characters had endless new words to say, Fairs has used only cuts from Shakespeare’s own text which, having not been aware before the production, is quite a feat.'
'Fair’s idea follows the main line of the original play but there’s a twist that I can’t really reveal... The story starts after Hero has died and is lying in a
coffin in the chapel and, not that far from the audience. The fact that Benedick and Beatrice’s verbal battles take place over Hero’s coffin immediately adds a new context especially as Claudio is, naturally, broken hearted and subsumed in the depths of his guilt.'
'Cleverly we have a flashback to the moment when Claudio denounces Hero at their wedding via Benedick’s iPhone which plays back the moments right up to her death but even if you haven’t seen the source play, the performances convey the meaning
which again is to be praised, not just the acting but also Fair’s editing.'
'A very smart script and the three performers are all outstanding'
'Director Anna Marsland desrves high praise for pacing the narrative with such finesse'
'(Marsland) uses the space and the players so well, there's a constant flow of motion and emotion leaving the watching audience immersed in the passion play'
'Ones to watch'
'Another superb production'
ActDrop - Peter Brown
'The post-interval segment is unexpectedly darker... Making Shakespeare's story rather more tantalising and palatable in the process.'
'I Know You of Old is a clever, intelligently crafted play which proves highly successful thanks to tight and skilled direction, matched by enjoyable performances from an exceptionally capable cast.'
Culture By Night - Daniel Perks
'Puritans may argue that Shakespeare is not a playwright to be mess about with, but the care and respect Fairs gives to The Bard only further
showcases his writing prowess... How many other playwrights could put together the Renaissance equivalent of a farce, only to have the exact same words restructured into a tragedy?'
'Marsland is a thorough visionary, constructing her world with nuance and finesse and ensuring the little things don’t crack the façade that she painstakingly puts together.'
'I Know You Of Old feels like a classic work... But the show does not require its predecessor to be enjoyed, the incense-filled chapel providing delight and drama well enough on its own.'
'Magnetic' [Conor O'Kane] 'has the pace, pause and placement that great comedy delivery is renowned for...As Benedick, Fairs is impish and arrogant, transforming from Lothario to Romeo seamlessly...Lambie’s Beatrice is a welcome counter – the other side of the same coin. For she too exudes false confidence, but reveals a tender and sincere sense of right...The verbal sparring of Beatrice (Lambie) and Benedick (Fairs) is the highlight.'
LondonTheatre1 - Terry Eastham
'This is a respectful treatment of The Bard’s words'
'Timelessness and fluidity of the text are its greatest achievements.'
‘Conor O'Kane's grief over Hero’s death is etched in every line of his visage…David Fairs definitely has the makings of a great physical comedian…most praise has to go to Sarah Lambie for her portrayal of the haughty, but sometimes awkwardly flirty, Beatrice.’
SpyInTheStalls - Angela East
'Shakespeare, but not as you know it!'
'Savvy' and 'intelligent'
'Director Anna Marsland gives the play a contemporary feel with the use of iPads, iPhones and social media'
'The use of music here certainly added to the comedy value of the show – the choice of songs was a stroke of genius!'
West End Wilma - Graham Archer
'Clever, interesting and entertaining'
'Claudio is excellently played by Conor O’Kane'
'David Fairs perfectly portrays the smart talking playboy, Benedick.'
'Beatrice is played by the wonderful Sarah Lambie. Sarah is a fine actress who makes the character her own.'
‘Features a super confident cast delivering performances that linger in the memory.’
‘I Know You Of Old is a reboot of Much Ado About Nothing: a tale of two intertwined love stories, Beatrice and Benedick in a perpetual state of
denial, tormenting each other over failed amorous encounters and Claudio’s unabashed pursuit of true love Hero. But the twist in this version is the death of Hero.’
‘The cast were brilliant, with all three actors playing off each other to great effect. David Fairs was excellent as Benedick, looking strangely cool in shades and a leather jacket (in a sweltering performance area!). Ditto Conor O’Kane as Claudio and Sarah Lambie was sensational as Beatrice.’
West End Wilma
I Thank You Theatre
Pocket Size Theatre
Spy In The Stalls
Mind The Blog