Shakespeare Unbound: A Gift to the Future at the Bierkeller Theatre was quite the entrancing revelation last night.
Produced by The Cedar Theatre Company, it starred British-born actor and director Colin David Reese in a one man show as John Heminges, mentor and playing compatriot of the young William Shakespeare. Beginning with Heminges’ triumphant hoisting of a final folio comprising the entirety of the Bard’s dramatic works (save for Pericles and one or two other other unfinished pieces), which took him seven years to complete, this success leads the charismatic old actor to muse upon his life in the arts, intertwined with the story of Shakespeare himself.
And a fascinating story it is, from how ‘young Will’ joins the players’ company by chance initially, the glory days of the celebrated poet in 1590s London and the intriguing fortunes and pitfalls to befall a jobbing theatre company in Elizabethan Britain. As much as any personage of any age can enjoy this well-told and entertaining monologue, I would wager that it would be particularly of interest to groups of schoolchildren, bringing alive a subject that all too often is choked within the unimaginative weeds of a staid national curriculum.
Colin David Reese is excellent and expressive as John Heminges, embracing the audience into his amiable onstage persona, literally at some points as audience interaction is used to explore Shakespeare’s lasting legacy today.
Perhaps also, the faintly magical and searingly poignant final image will stay with you long after the performance has finished.