A ‘Book of Will’ for all time

The Condells and Heminges with Ben Johnson in The Book of Will at American Players Theatre in Spring Green (Liz Loren photo)
The Condells, left and Heminges, right with Ben Johnson, center,  in The Book of Will at American Players Theatre in Spring Green (Liz Loren photo)

4 stars

High school kids typically encounter Shakespeare in an English class. A Shakespearean comedy is often staged outdoors in the summer. And, insightful comments from Shakespeare’s plays are quoted so often that some of the folks saying the witty words don’t even know they originated more than 400 years ago from the pen of an English playwright/poet who died in 1616.

But what if the plays of this great dramatist called the “Bard of Avon” had been lost or remembered incorrectly by players and printers?

Why and how they have been saved as the 1623 First Folio is the subject of American playwright Lauren Gunderson’s “Book of Will.”

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‘Heartbreak House’ provides exellent reason to visit American Players Theatre

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Tracy Michelle Arnold, Jonathan Smoots & Jim DeVita, Heartbreak House. (Photo by Liz Lauren.)
Tracy Michelle Arnold, Jonathan Smoots & Jim DeVita, Heartbreak House. (Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Watching “Heartbreak House” at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI, I am wondering what George Bernard Shaw would make of today’s world and most of all, the U.S’s current political scene.

With the subtitle “A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes,” “Heartbreak” proclaims the writer’s admiration for Anton Chekhov. However, though Chekhov appears to present his characters’ flaws and inability to do much about them as in “Cherry Orchard,” he still seems to have a fondness for them and likes them as if they should be tolerated as one does family members.

Shaw has a more critical attitude. He not only populates the English home of Captain Shotover with characters who sound as if they mean well but are so into their own little worlds that they do little to change anything, he also paints them as caricatures in a society that that won’t accept responsibility for its country’s problems.

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