619. Next – Barry Purves

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SUMMARY: William Shakespeare performs an audition in which he acts out representations of all his plays in pantomime.

WHY IT’S HERE: Made as part of Aardman Animations ‘Lip Synch’ series, Barry Purves’s ‘Next’ strays from the original pitch of using actual recordings as a soundtrack, instead presenting a five minute short with no dialogue whatsoever. Aardman were obviously more dedicated to quality than to rigid pitches however, and while it may seem like a strange fit for the ‘Lip Synch’ series, ‘Next’ is one of the studio’s finest ever films. The short focuses on a puppet version of William Shakespeare who, in an astonishingly expressive display of puppet pantomime, acts out representative sequences from every one of his plays in just five minutes. The producer watching this grand audition is a puppet version of theatre director Peter Hall but, in a final twist, he is also connected with another famous and even more influential Peter! For fans of Shakespeare in particular, ‘Next’ is a treat to watch and doubles as a guessing game as viewers can shout out which play is being portrayed now. Somewhat overlooked in the Aardman canon, ‘Next’ differs significantly from much of the studios output but in terms of quality it is right up there at the top.

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