The Beard of Avon

December 3, 2009 at 12:01 am | Posted in Play Review | Leave a comment
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Plot elements revealed!

December 1, 2009 by Show_Hanger

I went to Amy Freed’s The Beard of Avon, the other night, at Gryphon Theatre.

This comedy explores who wrote the works of Shakespeare.

Will Shakspere – played by Tom Rainbird – unhappy with his domestic circumstances in rural Avon, is tempted by the bright lights of the city and of the stage, runs away from his wife and farm! It turns out that he has no real talent to be an actor (can’t: dance, tumble, act, nor orate), but nevertheless becomes a spear shaker – a spear carrier – in a company in London. There his ability to polish and have a neat feeling turn of phrase is discovered and his future is assured – as is Willliam Shakespeare‘s place in history.

It is asserted that Shakspere/Shakespeare polished and finished off the plays (and poems), but who provided the drafts? The play drags forth a number of candidates. It does explain how Shakespeare had such an intermit knowledge of politics and of the nobility.

The play is engaging and mildly funny. The more you are familiar with plays of Shakespeare, the more your will be engaged; I am sure I missed a few references.

Chris O’Grady is superb as Edward de Vere (the Early of Oxford). Gillian Boyes makes a wonderful Queen Elizabeth I – though I am not sure that her handbag was historically accurate! Felicity Cozens took the various sides of Anne Hathaway (grumbling wife, sorry wife, unhappy wife, harlot!) in her stride. Susannah Donovan is great as Geoffrey Dunderbread – a man playing a women.

Worth going – if you have time bone up on your Shakespeare before you go!

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