Shakespeare Unbound – a Gift to the Future, The Lantern Theatre, by Stephen Grigg.
Seven years after Shakespeare’s death, his great friend, John Heminges, produced a compendium of his plays.
Colin David Reese is the author and star of this one-man play. He has 55 years treading the boards. His charisma and avuncular manner keeps the audience captivated as he reminisces about his life and friendship with “Young Will”.
There is a nice touch as he yearns to see the impact of his efforts on the ghosts of the future. The house lights briefly appear and the audience become players as he amicably interacts with them.
Heminges tells many charming anecdotes, such as when his acting troupe, Chamberlains Men, stole a landlord’s building, piece by piece and reconstructed it elsewhere as a theatre.
This contrasts with the tragedy of the Globe Theatre burning down in 1613.
There is also pathos as Heminges relates the death of Shakespeare’s son at the age of eleven. A sonnet about grief captivates the heartache perfectly.
He also brings to life many of Shakespeare’s famous characters. Notable quotes included, “All the world’s a stage” from As you Like It; “Now is the winter of our discontent” from Richard III; “To thine own self be true” from Hamlet.
In a poignant moment, Heminges paraphrases Hamlet a second time in anticipating his own imminent death. “Soon I will shuffle off this mortal coil”
As Reese admits, this account is fiction, as are all biographies of Shakespeare, but it is plausible, well acted and thoroughly entertaining.