Saturday, 31 July 2010

An Act of Will - The Secret Life of William Shakespeare, performed at Henley Fringe Festival.

Michael McEvoy as Will
It is 1613 and the now retired Shakespeare is at home in Stratford on Avon reviewing his career. A career that in which he has played ‘many parts’
It ought to be a time to look back with satisfaction on his life's work. However, the man is seemingly unsettled and has something to reveal to his audience however reluctantly.
As he gains our trust he recounts his early relationships with ’Kit’ Marlowe, Ben Jonson and the heady world of Elizabethan London. All very informative yet somehow unsatisfying and he recognises the audience’s disquiet.
So far he has defined his life as ‘whining schoolboy’, poacher, actor and playbroker. So why does he omit ‘playwright’? Why is he so disinclined to reveal why he has not chosen that as the apex of a varied career?
As Will, Michael McEvoy teases and slowly reveals his secret - the ‘true’ authorship of the plays. It is an argument that he has no difficulty in backing with plausible evidence. In one instance he quotes rival Greene, who stated that it was presumptuous of a "mere actor" to write a play and that ‘Shake-scene’ was ‘an upstart crow’ and not the author of ‘blank verse at its best’
Mc Evoy argues that Shakespeare was certainly unschooled in the classics and eventually states the view that Marlowe, in the role of ‘ghostwriter’ actually wrote the plays after feigning his death.
Nevertheless, is it just a twisting of truth by a master of deception or even an ‘improbable fiction’? McEvoy’s persuasive argument and accomplished delivery leaves the departing audience perplexed or maybe indignant that no man except William Shakespeare could ever write such wonderful poetry.
Whatever the answer McEvoy’s mesmerising performance, under the direction of Steve Cann, was altogether informative, thought provoking and of course, let not get too serious, great fun.

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