Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: Shakespeare’s Will has everything going for it except the truth, and the details that would inform us about the life of Shakespeare and those closest to him are essentially unknowable. While Kristen Wold, who plays Anne Hathaway, is absolutely convincing on stage, we saw what was, in essence, a gossip play.
Gail M. Burns: We should make it clear that we are discussing Anne Hathaway (1555/56– 6 August 1623) who was married to William Shakespeare, not the Academy Award-winning actress who is alive today. Like most women of her time, we know nothing about her except for what she did through the church and the legal system, and what men she “belonged to.” We know that she was baptized, married, her children were baptized and she was buried. We know who her father, brothers and husband were and what property they owned. We know that she and the children lived in Stratford, in Warwickshire, England, while her husband lived for many years in London while he worked in the theatre. At the time of their marriage, Shakespeare was 18 and Hathaway was 26 and pregnant.
Larry: As a playwright, one of the things you have going for you when you write about a dead person is the inability of the deceased to come back and challenge your assertions. Far more people claimed to have sex with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe after they died than when they were alive. And I suspect that Shakespeare was far less randy than the playwright Vern Thiessen has worked into his play, Shakespeare’s Will.
Gail: Or more so. Mores were very different back then, and it would be interesting to learn more about how married but separate couples like Hathaway and Shakespeare were expected to comport themselves.