Greg Kramer is mesmerizing. John Koensgen’s direction, together with Martin Conboy’s lighting and James Richardson’s sound, and, of course, Brian K. Stewart’s script make this world premiere of The Player’s Advice to Shakespeare all that a theatrical experience should be.
The presentation is suitably simple, with the focus firmly on Kramer, the Player, explaining how an actor in Will Shakespeare’s company happens to be in the Tower of London, waiting to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
The Player, once content as an actor in London, is moved to join the Midland Revolt of 1607 — the peasants’ reaction to the gentry enclosing common land to pasture their sheep. (The Enclosure movement was at its height during the 18th and early 19th centuries in Britain, but it had its roots in the earlier uprisings.)
Playwright Stewart is to be congratulated on the historical accuracy of the script, even if Advice occasionally becomes a generalized attack on the moneyed classes, then and now.
The Player turns his anger against Shakespeare, once his friend and mentor, for kowtowing to the establishment and not supporting the people through his writing. (How else could an artist live in these times, when the norm was to have the support of a patron?)
Without a performer as strong as Kramer, Stewart and director/dramaturge Koensgen might need to tighten the text a little. But, we do have Kramer as the Player, so my advice is: Don’t walk, run to this production of The Player’s Advice to Shakespeare.
Ottawa, Iris Winston
March 12, 2012