Review: Shakespeare in Suffolk, -The trials and Tribulations of a Travelling Player, Suzanne Hawkes

Shakes and Marlow

Shakes and Marlow - Credit: cont

This is an entertaining and educating romp through the sometimes murky world of Elizabethan theatre, Shakespeare in Suffolk is another delightful offering by playwright Suzanne Hawkes, writes James Marston.

Henry Shakes Kempe Rich

Henry Shakes Kempe Rich - Credit: cont

Accepting the premise that Will Shakespeare performed in Ipswich with the Chamberlain’s Men in 1596 when he was at the height of his powers, this imaginative and well researched play focuses on his relationships with other leading theatrical figures of the time – Christopher Marlow, William Kempe and Richard Burbage among them.

Using excerpts from Shakespeare’s body of work, this is a cleverly written piece with some great humour and some interesting ideas. Did Christopher Marlow really die in that tavern brawl? What was the relationship like between Will Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway? Did Shakespeare and Kempe actively dislike each other? Was John Shakespeare really a spy?

Set in a tavern run by the no nonsense Mistress Slowbody as the travelling players make their way to our county town, Shakespeare in Suffolk is a slightly bawdy and fast paced show. It uses music and dance to good effect, giving the audience an authentic flavour of the world of 16th century theatre.

The trading of Shakespearean insults, the exploration of Shakespeare’s relationships with his family, the humour of Mistress Slowbody are notable highlights – there’s even a fight scene.

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A treat of Suffolk theatre.

The play is on at Sproughton Tithe Barn this evenibng and The Bull, Long Melford tomorrow.

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