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Review: THE BOOK OF WILL at Lyric Stage Company of Boston is a Fun Night out at the Theatre

The production runs now through March 27th

Review: THE BOOK OF WILL at Lyric Stage Company of Boston is a Fun Night out at the Theatre

William Shakespeare no doubt changed the world of theatre and helped to shape it into the art form that it is today. In his short fifty-two years of life, he wrote at least thirty-seven plays and collaborated on more. Without the work of two of his friends, those plays could have been long lost and forgotten.

THE BOOK OF WILL, now playing at the Lyric Stage Company until March 27th, tells the story of John Heminges (Joshua Wolf Coleman) and Henry Condell (Ed Hoopman), who worked with other to put together the first folio of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. While this play (written by Lauren Gunderson) is not the most historically accurate, it gives us a glance of what life may have been like for these men. We see their passion for theatre and for their friend, and how it infects those around them.

The play begins with a snippet from a performance of Hamlet that uses a "pirated script" from the first quarto. We then see the King's Men at a taphouse, owned by Heminges, ranting about the awful performance they had just seen and reminiscing about their days of performing and gloating about their, self-described, terrific performances. The next day, a member of the group dies. This causes Henry to realize that they need some way to have a record of Shakespeare's plays as at the moment the plays were only internalized by the actors who played them and there was no official copy of the scripts.

The script is overall well written. We really get to see the characters' passions and their drive. One critique I do have of the script, however, is a love story that doesn't really go anywhere. At one point in the play, we are introduced to Issac Jaggard (played by Lewis D. Wheeler) who is the son of a publisher who can help John and Henry print and publish the folio. John's daughter, Alice Heminges (played by Grace Experience), seems to have a romantic interest in Issac. Throughout the play, they seem to share some romantic glances and you think they're going to get together but it never happens. The storyline seems to be forgotten about.

The standout performance of the evening was by Sarah Newhouse who played John's wife, Rebecca (and also the role of Emilia Bassano Lanier). You could really see the love Rebecca had for John and how much she wanted to see his project succeed.

THE BOOK OF WILL isn't the most groundbreaking piece of theatre in Boston right now. It has no call to action or deep hidden meaning. It is simply a fun night out at the theatre. I barely took notes during the performance as I found it very captivating. If you're looking for a fun show, THE BOOK OF WILL will not disappoint.

THE BOOK OF WILL is directed by Courtney O'Connor. It features designs by Janie E. Howland (scenic), Elisabetta Polito (costume), Christopher Brusberg (lighting), and Elizabeth Cahill (sound). For tickets and more information visit the Lyric Stage Company website.

Photo by Mark S. Howard



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