All the world’s a stage, including St. Andrew’s United and St. Mary’s Anglican Church, where Lillooet Music presented The Shakespeare Show Apr. 27.
Performed by Ryan Gladstone and Tara Travis and written by Gladstone, The Shakespeare Show is based on the premise that the man responsible for William Shakespeare’s plays was not Williams Shakespeare.
According to Gladstone’s version, Shakespeare was but a humble horse holder from Snittersfield (doesn’t have the same ring to it as Stratford-upon-Avon, does it?). Gladstone claims the honour of being the world’s greatest playwright should really go to the aristocratic Edward deVere, Earl of Oxford, who used the bumbling Shakespeare as a front for his creations.
While some presentations are fast-paced, this show is antic, frantic farce with Gladstone and Travis remaining firmly in control of their material while leaving audience members marvelling at how they could remember all the quips, puns, jests, insults and jokes.
Front-row audience members Kim North, Aleda Johnson and Greg Mahaits became part of the fun as they were suddenly drawn into the madcap action
The two actors performed more than 30 characters, with the rubber-faced Travis appearing as everyone from a “sexy” Queen Elizabeth 1 to the censorious Master of Revels to the vain actor Richard Burbage. Gladstone offered a fiendishly clever and howlingly funny portrait of all three witches from Macb…ahem, the Scottish play. (It’s a theatrical superstition that the play Macbeth is supposed to be cursed, so actors never utter the word “Macbeth;” instead they use the euphemism “The Scottish play.”) Somehow, the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz wandered in at that point in the show, to hilarious effect.
In an interview afterwards with the News, Gladstone said a credible case can be made for deVere as the author of Shakespeare’s work. He noted that deVere’s life contained many parallels to events in Shakespeare’s plays and that after deVere died in 1604, new Shakespeare plays stopped being published.
Prior to the play, Len Rose, with his new keyboard, played a selection of popular favourites and light jazz that put the audience in a mellow mood His keyboard can mimic any sound, including a brassy trumpet solo and the voices of back up singers..
This was the final presentation of the season for Lillooet Music, which branched out this year to include a community square dance and a theatrical production – The Shakespeare Show – on its concert list.
Members of Lillooet Music met this week to begin planning next year’s season of shows.
Editor’s Note: I am a director of Lillooet Music.