by Vern Thiessen.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Emlyn Williams Theatre) To 3 April 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 1 April.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 March.
A voice for Anne Hathaway.
She was a lively lass, Anne Hathaway, one for the boys, who went tumbling in the hay, letting Will have his way, ending pregnant and married to a lad 8 years younger whose roving eye soon turned to the stage and a London career. From which point she was largely cut out from his life. He wrote her a poem, said he’d write better – and did, often, but not to her.
There was clearly a lad he fancied in town, and when he does return to the Stratford house, at career’s end, it’s with the (all-male) acting crew from the Globe, who had become more than her to him.
And now she’s just buried Bill, returning home, laying his last testament folded, like an enemy, on the furniture. Some will already know Anne’s legacy; in his 2005 play Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen relates it to Shakespeare’s desire for a male heir, and his wife’s involvement (as here supposed) in his only son’s death.
There’s a lot of supposition and some invention, as always in handling Shakespeare’s life. Yet Thiessen creates a smoothly convincing span – dramatically if not always biographically. His is a lively Anne, mocking and answering her father’s anger at her misalliance, contemptuous of her sister-in-law, showing too the desperate first-time mother and Anne’s longing for the sea she used to know.
Vivien Parry jumps into her father’s stance, and as rapidly reverts to her own spirited independence in answering him. For one benefit of Emma Lucia’s well-paced, lively yet tonally varied production, is the space it gives Parry, long a star, or at least leading light, of Mold’s informal ensemble.
Noting how the man of words could spare her so few – Bill’s terse notes home hang like Orlando’s verses to Rosalind in As You Like It – singing (very well) songs from her husband’s plays when their mood fits (Thiessen never explains how she came by his lyrics in Stratford),weaving in and out of the huge door suggesting a rich but empty home in Mark Bailey’s dark, spare set, Parry absorbs the audience in her spirited, independent-minded Hathaway.
Anne Hathaway: Vivien Parry.
Voice of William Shakespeare: Simon Armstrong.
Director: Emma Lucia.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Lighting: Nick Beadle.
Sound: Matthew Williams.
Composer: Julian Marshall.
Choreographer: Rachel Catherall.