If the idea of transporting a Shakespearean era, 1500 pages academic compendium of literature and practice on melancholy to the stage sounds ambitious and difficult, it is. But the resulting work by Stan’s Cafe is an outstandingly edited and abridged version of the text, with subtle references to the modern society and a beautifully and engaging staging which makes it a very enjoyable three hours of theatre.
On the stage stands a series of different sizes, well crafted wooden flip charts which guide the action through the various partitions, sections, members and subjects, or chapters and subsections in modern terms. As someone who enjoys structure, this is bliss. The book starts with various definitions, then move onto symptoms and cures. One aspect of the book is the sheer number of references on other works and this is effectively done by flashing a piece of paper with the name of the reference while the reference is made. It slow the flow of the piece while respecting and acknowledging the original text. Again, this maybe the academic in me which find this fascinating. The book is condensed to its bare essential, while maintaining the important wisdom and highlighting the genius and folly while keeping it brief and maintaing a flow. Also, the language is preserved, even retaining the latin phrases with additional material presented in similar style. The scholarly nature of it may occasionally weight it down but the witty and lively performance by the cast of four keeps it light and entertaining. Despite the specialised subject matter, it carries a much wider appeal in this clever and impressively realised work.