by Paula Citron
Shakespeare’s Will by Vern Thiessen at the Stratford Festival is a classic example of wonderful productions values being unable to save a very weak play.
The premise should be a fascinating one. In his will, Shakespeare was generous to his children, his acting company and his sister. Yet to his wife Anne Hathaway, he left only his second best bed. In fact, she lost her house which he bequeathed to her sister-in-law. Playwright Thiessen attempts to come to grips with why Hathaway was so humiliated.
The play is a solo vehicle for the great Seana McKenna. Peter Hartwell has designed a gorgeous Elizabethan costume for her and a cunning set of platforms and stairs. Miles Potter has directed with care, while Marc Desormeaux’s period score is elegant. Everything works excepts the play.
Thiessen has bogged down the text with arch poetic language and his character details few insights in her tedious monologue.
Shakespeare’s Will continues until Sept. 20.
From the Stratford Festival’s Studio Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.