will and the ghost

will and the ghost - blackbox@the bakehouse
It seems that so little is known about the life of Shakespeare that writers enjoy inventing "what might have beens" to fill up the space.

There's also a shorthand that writing about the world's most famous playwright gives you... there's his entire collected works to comb through and lines that are so famous that they surpass the plays that they're from.

Will and The Ghost at The Bakehouse Theatre written by Aoise Stradford and Canal Condemn and directed by Lucy Markiewicz does both of these things beautifully.

The play is more a "what never really was" rather than a "might have been", but it's all the more interesting for it.
When Will Shakespeare is mugged after drinking at the Bear's Head Tavern, a mysterious stranger who rescues him and takes him home uncovers his dark secret. Under threat of exposure, Will enters into a pact with the stranger. But is he dealing with a man or a poltergeist?
The writing by Stradford and Condemn is really strong... there are moments in the play that I realised afterwards were referring to the play itself, and the use of Shakespeare's works is cleverly worked into the dialogue, never feeling heavy handed.

David Hirst as Will and John Maurice as Ghost are both excellent actors, although both are very different.

Hirst occasionally plays Will very close to the line of caricature... there's an element of an almost over the top, cartoon version of Shakespeare in the performance, but it never gets out of hand, and Hirst definitely plays up the humour in his role. However there are moments both when he's terrified as well as when he's livid where he's captivating and embodies those emotions with every fibre of his being.

With Maurice you're never entirely sure whether he's the Ghost of the title or some kind of Elizabethan mobster... both the writing and his performance tread that line brilliantly where you could believe either, or both at the same time.

The two actors have fantastic chemistry together both in the moments of humour but also when things turn nasty between the two characters. Will's reactions feel real because Ghost's actions have weight behind them.

While the ending doesn't really feel like a surprise, as the whole play has been building to exactly that moment, it the execution does come together as a perfect moment of theatre.

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