Where there is a Will
Shakespeare’s Will deft and intimate
While students at the University of Regina were taking a week off to read and relax, the Globe Theatre was hard at work as the production of their fourth main stage production, entitled Shakespeare’s Will, got underway on Thursday, Feb. 24.
The play is centred around Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, and it is all told from her perspective. It takes one into her life and marriage to the literature giant and also tries to shed light on this little-known character.
Shakespeare’s Will does a fantastic job of delving into the mind of the lone character that is physically present and taking the audience deep inside her thoughts. The play seems to take place almost entirely inside her mind, using minimal props and set, heavily relying on audience imagination to establish a setting and other characters. Furthermore, despite being the only character onstage, there is still dialogue in the performance. It is all done as if Anne is recalling all of the conversations and adds her own biases, impersonations, and views.
While there are no scene changes that can be visibly seen in terms of characters entering and leaving the stage and changes in the set and backdrop, there are scene changes that are implied by Anne’s dialogue. The advantage of this sort of scene change is that it can happen rapidly, fluidly, and effectively; the scenes change with Anne’s thoughts and what particular subject she’s dwelling on. The disadvantage to this is that at times scenes could jump from one to another almost randomly and one had to pay very close attention to the action on stage. This was combated with changes in lighting to help cue scene changes and the arrival of other characters into the mind of Anne.
Shakespeare’s Will has a unique tone to it in the sense that it felt less like one was at a play, but rather given a strong visual aspect to reading a descriptive piece of prose. This is due to the fact that because there is only one actor on stage, she narrates the piece as well as gives her lines to the other invisible characters onstage. Consequently, the diction of her narration becomes an important factor in helping to set the tone and mood of the play.
Seana McKenna, the lone actor of the play, did a fantastic job. Not only did she play the part of Anne deftly, the indirect characterization used to create the other characters was also done quite well. Essentially, she was faced with the task of not only learning and mastering her part, but learning the parts of every character that arose in the play. It would seem a rather daunting task, but that was not the impression left after seeing her performance in Shakespeare’s Will. There were also a few a capella singing parts that were also done smoothly.
Overall, this one-woman show does a great job at taking one into the depths of Anne Hathaway’s mind and marriage to Shakespeare. The lack of on-stage characters make changes in scene and location flow smoothly and give an unwrinkled pace to the production.
Shakespeare’s Will is playing at the Globe Theatre from now until Mar. 13. Tickets start at $25 and are available online or at the Globe Box Office.