An Act of Will

The Secret Life of William Shakespeare at the Fringe Staff

Written by Staff Published on 28.05.2010 13:08:50 (updated on 28.05.2010) Reading time: 5 minutes

Portrait Productions present

An Act of Will
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare

Directed by Steven Canny

Stratford-upon-Avon, 1613. William Shakespeare arrives home at the beginning of his retirement after a glittering career in London as England´s greatest playwright. This ought to be a time for him to look back with satisfaction on his life´s work. But he is hiding something. The story that unfolds is that of a life at the end of the Tudor age and the dawn of a new century. It is a story of religious intolerance, political intrigue, espionage… and literary genius. But what is the big secret that he is so desperate to tell us, yet so frightened to reveal?

Fringe Festival Praha, Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th June 2010. 17.00 – 18.30.
A Studio Rubin, Malostranski namesti 9, Mala Strana, Praha 1.

* * * * *

“A provocative portrait of a newly-retired William Shakespeare. McEvoy´s portrayal delights audiences as he reveals Shakespeare´s personal and professional ‘secrets´. McEvoy´s amiable but rough-edged Shakespeare looks the part – aged and wearied. Relaxed in demeanor and his eyes full of humor, this Shakespeare describes his early life, his journeys to see James Burbage perform, and his love for and engagement to Anne Whately. The shotgun wedding to the impregnated Anne Hathaway and a lifetime of marriage to ‘the wrong Anne´ are the first in a slew of revelations. McEvoy presents Shakespeare´s early London years with fondness, peppering the account with detailed ‘realities´. He tells of Robert Greene´s inflammatory pamphlets inciting the torture of Thomas Kyd and the heresy accusations against Christopher Marlowe. The accumulation of ‘historical details´ mounts and lends credence to the play´s pivotal – and conjectural – ‘secret´. McEvoy breathes life into ‘history´, as he tells his stories. He always entertains, sometimes with self-deprecating humor. Director Steven Canny relies on the personable McEvoy to engage the audience. This fascinating production concludes with Shakespeare suddenly distrustful of the spectators, suspecting they may be spies from the Star Chamber. He reverses himself, claiming his confession to be merely a jest.”
Justin Shaltz, Shakespeare Bulletin.

“I knew it. OK, I´ll admit there is still room for doubt. But Michael McEvoy´s virtuoso one-man performance as a guilt-ridden Shakespeare reminiscing about his life was utterly convincing. Mr McEvoy, who also wrote the play, was a thoroughly believable Bard. This was the key. So many background details were given that, by the time the great plot was revealed, the audience was in thrall to the most explosive confessional of literary history.”
Neil Lampert, Kentish Gazette.

“Michael McEvoy excels as William Shakespeare. The audience must have wondered where the time went, such was the captivating tale of Elizabethan intrigue An intimate and humorous touch that brought the country’s greatest playwright to life as a real man. Clues litter the plot but it would be a crime to give away the ‘revelation’ to those who may yet see the play.”
Bill Young, Bordon Post.

“Anyone with a serviceable knowledge of the Bard should be intrigued.”
Fiona Shepherd, The Scotsman.

“If you’re looking for a nice, safe, ‘heritage-style´ view of the Bard, you´ve come to the right place. Then, slowly, you realize that something´s amiss”
Amanda Polanska-Dale, Three Weeks.

“From the intriguing disclosure one´s interest is truly held; there is much to grip.”
Amanda Hodges, Edinburgh Evening News.

“The story features a wealth of reinterpreted historical facts. McEvoy and the director Steven Canny find a pace and a fitting self-referencing format to heighten the theatricality of the piece. There is much audience titillation while the Bard is making his mind up as to whether or not to confide his greatest secret in them, and the success of the entire show rests on the risky business of audience seduction. You cannot help being charmed.”
Duska Radosavijevic Heaney, The Stage.

An Act of Will – The Secret Life of William Shakespeare was first seen at the International Performing Arts Festival in Lahore, after which Michael took the play on a highly successful tour of Pakistan with the British Council. He has presented the play in Edinburgh, Paris and London – and will be presenting it at the Prague Fringe Festival in June this year, followed by the Henley Festival in July.

Michael has also written solo shows on Charles Dickens, Vincent van Gogh, George Orwell and Niccolo Machiavelli, which he has performed in the UK and around the world.

Michael´s recent theatre includes Beckett and the Philosophers with the Godot Company at the Cockpit Theatre, Breaking the Code for Antares B Productions, Black Comedy at the Half Moon, Herne Hill. During the current election campaign Michael appeared as Rupert Murdoch in The New Prime Minister at the Cochrane Theatre, London. Michael is a founder member of the touring company, the Globe Players, with whom he has played many classical roles. Television includes Chambers, The Bill, Who Cared for Billy Jo? and Watching the Detectives. Most recent film: The Tell-tale Heart (Peer Productions USA).

Pragues eagerly awaited annual marathon of theatre, dance, comedy
and music from around the globe bursts to life on May 28th for 9 days.

The Prague Fringe Festival, now in its 9th year attracts a growing
band of visitors from overseas as well as being increasingly popular
with Czech audiences. The event creates a great international atmosphere
where those on holiday can mix with locals and enjoy an eclectic mix of
high quality and reasonably priced non-elitist theatrical

This exciting event offers 40 different shows with over 200
performances and is a mini and more manageable version of the mighty
world famous Edinburgh Fringe. Its cheaper too with tickets priced at
around a third cheaper than the Edinburgh shows.

All productions are in English, Czech or are non-verbal and are
programmed so that you can see up to 5 shows a day or dip in and out as
you please. Shows take place from the afternoon to late evening, most
last for an hour or so with time between to zip from venue to venue and
grab a bite to eat, or even pop back to your hotel for a freshen-up.

Full programme
on line and tickets on sale NOW. Come and join the Prague Fringe group

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