By FELIX RIVERA
"Shakespeare’s Will," put on by Cyrano’s Theater Company, is simple. At least it appears to be simple at first glance. The set, though beautifully decorated, isn’t stunning, and there is only one cast member.
But don’t be fooled, this production is all about the acting. This play is all about Elizabeth Ware, who takes on the role of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare. Before the start of the play, Ware was introduced as “the best actress in Alaska, and quite possibly the lower 48 as well.” Though it may be hard to prove, Ware embodied the spirit of Hathaway – Shakespeare’s best friend and the person who never really knew the famous playwright.
Though Ware may have been the only cast member, she imitated several other characters, including Shakespeare, her children and her husband’s sister, Susanna. “Jesus Christ!” echoed throughout the small intimate theater as Ware imitated her very Protestant and anti-Catholic father, one of the few times the play took a more humorous tone.
Most of the production is very somber, taking place during the day of Shakespeare’s funeral. After returning from the funeral, Ware takes the audience back to the day Hathaway and the playwright first met. The entire play is a mix between flashbacks of Hathaway’s relationship with Shakespeare, or lack thereof, and the day of the funeral, as the new widow decides whether to open her husband’s will.
Ware did an excellent job of making these transitions seamless for the audience, helped by a good lighting scheme. In fact, Ware was so good that when she hated Bill – as she called Shakespeare – the audience hated him, when she laughed, the audience laughed. Many of these transitions made in a split second – bringing to light the confusion that Hathaway herself may have felt.
The hour and forty-five minute production would have been lackluster and boring if any other actress had been in the role of Hathaway. But the set and prop designer also deserves some praise. From the wooden sailing boat that little Hamnet played with to the ominous window, Ware made full use of the set, a room in Stratford-upon-Avon, imbuing a sense of realism.
The play will be at Cyrano’s until April 25. Play times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. There is also a matinee showing at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $18.25.
Felix Rivera is a student at Alaska Pacific University and intern at ADN.