Shakespeare Lives in Hollywood
Most of the one-man shows in the theater deal with historical or literary characters about whom much is known. One of the best examples is Hal Holbrook‘s show “Mark Twain Tonight,” which he has performed since the 1950s. This style of drama does not seem promising for a character as shrouded in mystery as William Shakespeare. After all, a going debate argues over whether he even wrote the plays and sonnets for which he is known.
The one-man show “Shakespeare’s Last Night Out” takes the mystery and the writings in a fun direction, remaking the Bard of Avon into not only a great writer but a fascinating person. A big hit at the Hollywood Fringe Festival last spring, “Shakespeare” begins a new run at Three Clubs in November. If an important test for political candidates is that they look like someone you would like to have a beer with, this Shakespeare passes the test with flying colors.
Much of the credit for the play’s success lies with Michael Shaw Fisher. Not only the writer and composer of the show, he also portrays Shakespeare. As the audience enters a small room that doubles as a bar, the Bard sits at a table. Supposedly passed out in a tavern, he still holds on to his quill with a death grip. As showtime arrives, he awakens to tell the audience the story of his life. And what a tale he has to tell.
Fisher uses the show to make his subject into a fully-realized, three-dimensional person. His Shakespeare grew up in less-than-promising circumstances for a literary career. Despite that, he manages to find his way to London and the stage. From there it was a logical next step to writing the plays he performed. In watching the play, the audience will be convinced of his authorship of the plays (from which he quotes freely). This performance is funny and dramatic in equal turns.
With the aid of a pair of “muses” (guitarist Gordon Wimpress and Allison Faith Sulock on dulcimer, flute, lute, gemshorn and percussion), Fisher’s Shakespeare makes for entertaining company for an evening at the bar. From a great body of work and aided by the mystery of the Bard’s origins, Fisher has created a unique view of a great writer and made him human. This is an achievement worth seeing.
Three Clubs (1123 Vine Street in Hollywood) presents “Shakespeare’s Last Night Out.” Three Sundays, November 1, December 6 and December 13, at 6 P.M. For tickets:
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Senior Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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