The play includes several historical figures, nicely described in the program along with other helpful dramaturgical information. Robert Cecil is listed as Secretary of State, but he's portrayed as King James' right hand man, who bestows the commission upon our playwright Shags. The problem is, the King's version of the plot may not be entirely true, and since it ends with an explosion that doesn't happen, is lacking in dramatic urgency. Shags and his company of actors try to figure out a better ending, and Shags asks to talk to some of the plotters before their tried (and ultimately hanged, drawn, and quartered, ew). As he talks to these doomed men he begins to doubt what he's doing in writing this play. On a personal level, he's grieving the death of his son, which keeps him at a distance from his daughter Judith (the only female character in the play, but at least she's a smart, strong woman with a mind of her own).
|Shagspeare (Damon C. Mentzer) receives his commission|
from Cecil (Peter Simmons, photo by Dan Norman)
|the King loves witches! (photo by Dan Norman)|
This play gave me a lot to chew on, and plenty to look up on Wikipedia for further exploration (I swear I'll soon be an expert on the history of the English monarchy just from seeing plays). Historical tidbits, moral dilemmas, family drama, religious feuds, this play has it all! While I wish the playwright had been a bit more succinct about it, it is fascinating piece, well executed by the cast and creative team at Walking Shadow.
Equivocation continues at Gremlin Theatre through June 24.