Fringe review: ‘The Shakespeare Show: or, How an Illiterate Son of a Glover Became the Greatest Playwright in the World,’ ribbitREpublic, Vancouver, B.C.
By Elizabeth Maupin
Fans of the works of Mr. William Shakespeare may already know more than they want to about the Oxford theory – the idea, mostly dismissed, that the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere, wrote Shakespeare’s plays, not Shakespeare. That’s the basis for The Shakespeare Show, which takes the idea that Shakespeare was an unschooled rube and runs with it. I’m not sure anyone will be convinced, but comedy is the goal, not scholarship, and there’s enough comedy to carry you along.
Ryan Gladstone and Tara Travis play all the characters in the show, which Gladstone wrote mostly in verse: That verse is clever, and the best thing about The Shakespeare Show is the way the two actors speak it so conversationally that the wit in the rhymes catches you by surprise. What works less well is that their version of Shakespeare himself, an illiterate whose job it is to hold patrons’ horses at the Globe, often sounds as wise as one of the real Shakespeare’s fools – which is to say very wise indeed.
Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet all find their way into The Shakespeare Show; it’s too bad, then, that the comedy goes on a good 20 minutes too long because the tail end of it (a TV talk show, an awards ceremony) is considerably funnier than what has come before.
Still, the play does leave you with one unerring bit of wisdom: A dandelion by any other name would proliferate as swiftly. Or not.
Remaining shows: 5:30 p.m. Monday 5/24, 9:35 p.m. Wednesday 5/26, 8:20 p.m. Friday 5/28, 9 p.m. Saturday 5/29. Orange venue.