IS SHAKESPEARE DEAD? REVIEWS & AWARDS
SEEKING SHAKESPEARE'S GHOSTWRITER
The Gazette (Montreal)
Saturday, January 11, 2003
The orthodox theory that an obscure country bumpkin from Stratford who quit school at age 15 wrote the "Compleat Works of William Shakespeare" is a fabrication stitched with surmise and conjecture by tenured English Lit. Dept. troglodytes.
That's the Bard-gospel truth preached by Fringe-circuit superstar Keir Cutler, one of the two solo acts at this year's Wildside Festival of cutting-edge drama running at Centaur Theatre until Saturday, Jan.18.
Cutler dons lawyer's robes and wields an impressive plaster bust of the Divine Will, purchased online, in casting more than just reasonable doubt on the alleged authorship of the more than three dozen plays, 154 sonnets and poetry generally attributed to "Shakespeare."
Is Shakespeare Dead? Cutler's dramatic monologue, constructs an irrefutable case against the glove-maker's son from Stratford, arguing with passionate conviction that the 17th Earl of Oxford (Edward de Vere), Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon were all far more likely to have written the Works, as were several other Earls, and for that matter, Queen Elizabeth I herself.
"If Francis Bacon didn't write the Works of Shakespeare, he missed the opportunity of a lifetime," Cutler says in pointing to what he considers the likely solution to literature's most persistent puzzle.
But we'll never know who really wrote Hamlet, Titus Andronicus or Richard III, he admits. This is because of the academic troglodytes' power to assume, the high stakes Bard tourist-trade, and the blanks in our knowledge of the literary activities of a man who started out in theatre by holding playgoers' horses just outside of it.
"The few available facts about Shakespeare's life are mostly mundane details," says the Wordsworth Dictionary of Shakespeare. By contrast, we know plenty about Marlowe, Bacon and the Earl of Oxford, all of it consistent with the supreme knowledge of the world and the human heart reflected in the Works.
Is Shakespeare Dead? was inspired by Mark Twain, whose skepticism about Shakespeare's role as the Greatest Author of All Time has been shared over the years by such bright lights as Walt Whitman, James Joyce and Charles Dickens, as well as by Sigmund Freud and Orson Welles.
Cutler has a unique talent for knocking library dust off serious research and a gift for being smart without boring the audience, as displayed in the brilliant urban satire Teaching Detroit performed at last year's edition of Wildside.
Is Shakespeare Dead? marshals startling facts into an elegant and often tenacious argument that floats on a current of delicious irony.
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