Shakespeare’s Rebel is a familiar blend of drama and swordplay peppered with a smattering of humour that lightens the otherwise heavy load of tragedy.
Anousha Alamian as William Shakespeare and Michael Blake as Richard Burbage set the tone nicely in the opening scene as the troubled playwright and his friend and fellow actor struggling with alterations to one of Shakespeare’s plays. Benedict Campbell shines as the encumbered Lawley shifting effortlessly between drama and romance, swordplay and tenderness. Colleen Wheeler hits every mark with her no-nonsense, embodied portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I throughout highly demanding scenes that insist on an expert’s touch. Jennifer Lines shines as only Jennifer Lines can in her portrayal of tavern mistress Tess with her uncanny ability to capture and hold an audience’s attention through every change in expression, and John Murphy is a delightful blend of humour, intellect, and straight up sexy in the devilish role of Devereux. Robert Klein is sumptuously controlling as Sir Robert Cecil and David Marr is lavishly amusing as the cowardly drunkard Sir Samuel D’Esparr. There is a myriad of quips and cracks throughout the play that keep us on our Bardian feet, often referring to notable Shakespearian scenes, and all are delivered with finesse and expertise.
Murray Price’s sound design works wonderfully to add believability to the settings and transitions of scenes, and Christine Reimer’s and Mara Gottler’s costumes are magnificently extravagant with an immediate, notable attention to detail.
Shakespeare’s Rebel is as close as you will get to a Shakespearian play in all its glory. C.C. Humphreys does a brilliant job of developing an imaginative tale that threads the old with the new in a tapestry of desire, drama, and duty.
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