A play in a bar? And it’s Shakespeare? Tell us more.

It’s exactly what it says on the tin. We grabbed Shakespeare’s first play – a fun, fast-paced rom-com – and without asking anyone’s permission we set it in a pub in Valletta. Then we asked a bunch of people to come along, have a pint of beer or glass of wine, and have some fun with us.

How did this idea come about?

I’ve wanted to direct a Shakespeare play with this company for years. When my friend Nathan Brimmer took over The Pub in Archbishop’s Street, we immediately realised that we’d eventually have to use it as a venue. The two came together when I was re-reading Two Gentlemen of Verona, and the odd thought occurred to me that nearly every scene could conceivably take place in a pub.

How is it not the Shakespeare-your-school-teachers-taught-you type of production?

It’s hardly news to say that Shakespeare suffers from a bit of an image problem. People think of the plays as stuffy and boring, full of big speeches and men in tights. One of the side-effects of the way we’re approaching this play is that I expect it will show that Shakespeare can be funny and exciting, and most importantly, it’ll have a fake willy in it.

What’s the rehearsal process been like so far and what can audiences expect?

Rehearsals have been fantastic. The actors have a lot of freedom with their characters and have seized on that to really have fun and create some hilarious gags, apart from some very sweet and moving moments. I expect that the audience will pick up on that fun. I can’t guarantee that this will be the best play anyone’s ever seen, but I can guarantee there’s nothing else on like it this year.

Two Gentlemen of Verona is directed by Philip Leone-Ganado and stars Joe Azzopardi, Nathan Brimmer, Bettina Paris, Giulia Xuereb and Joseph Zammit.

Performances will take place at The Pub in Archbishop’s Street in Valletta from the 5th till the 10th and the 12th till the 15th March at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased from The Pub, or email whatstheirnames.theatre@gmail.com or call 7734 5207.