July 14, 2011
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SJP


Still no Will for Shakespeare
By JOHN COULBOURN, QMI Agency


Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway.

Just in case you missed the opportunity to overlook Shakespeare’s Will the first time around, the Stratford Festival is giving you another chance to miss it, reviving it on the same Studio stage on which it played in 2007.

And having caught up with it in its Wednesday afternoon opening, I can heartily recommend you give it a pass one more time.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with Seana McKenna’s performance here. Indeed, under the direction of Miles Potter, she sinks her teeth into the character of Shakespeare’s widow, Anne Hathaway, with the kind of skill and enthusiasm we’ve come to expect from one of Stratford’s leading ladies, tackling playwright Vern Thiessen’s script with full commitment as she stalks over Peter Hartwell’s mercifully redesigned set.

But frankly, the script simply doesn’t justify the attack, any more than it did four summers ago.

In creating the play, Thiessen takes the thimbleful of knowledge history gives us about the woman Shakespeare married and spins it into a whole cloth of utter fabrication, all of which is more than allowable in a theatrical world of make-believe, even while it proves to be pedestrian and rather dull.

But in that world of make believe, he ultimately fails to make us believe in any meaningful way that he has captured the essence of Shakespeare’s marriage or the heart of the woman to whom the Bard left only his “second-best bed.”


Sure, it’s a play “about Shakespeare” in its way, but finally, reviving this production doesn’t say as much about programming genius as it does about theme-park gimmickry.

SHAKESPEARE'S WILL

Studio Theatre

Directed by Miles Potter

Starring Seana McKenna
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