Shakespeare, his wife & the dog
on tour until November 23
Liverpool Playhouse Studio
A palpable miss – could have been me, I mean, having originally wondered can you be bothered making an hour’s round trip
to see something just an hour long? Well, you can certainly learn a lot in that space of time, and be entertained, educated and enthralled all at once.
A very simple, very clever idea based on the fact that writers draw on their own life as much as on their imagination. So here we have Shakespeare’s studio, banished it seems outdoors: a shed, a man cave. The floor is strewn with scripts overflowing from a huge chest. And as symbolic as a mediaevil painting: there’s the skull, the casket, the spotted handkerchief. And here is Anne, caustic and confused by turn, seeking the uneponymous dog and confronting her husband, seeking the truth about his departure and his return; his life. And he by turn is husband, infuriated yet, seemingly, still infatuated, frustrated playwright, beset by writer’s block and bemoaning that his works have gone out of fashion, and bombastic actor, including an amazing cameo as Will Kemp.
Fittingly, it is conceived, written and acted by Philip Whitchurch who generously spotlights Sally Edwards as the bard’s wife of 30 years. The dialogue oscillates between the old married couple’s quibbling and their closeness; contradicting each other, recallling humorous anecdotes, capturing all the petulance and the poignancy, and actual quotes from the plays. All of which is craftily woven together, spiced up with sly jokes and observations and some delightfully wittily and audacious touches: hints of plagiarism, anachronisms, even, The writer has such fun with all of this, and so does the audience; much of the laughter is proof that familiarity can often breed amusement rather than contempt.
An incredible play brought stunningly to life by two incredible actors. Short but oh so sweet – totally delicious in fact