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The Book of Will: An Interesting Twist On Shakespeare

By Teodora Simic, Staff Writer

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The Northlight Theater in Skokie is putting on a production of “The Book of Will” through Dec. 17, 2017. The show runs for about two hours and ten minutes, including intermission. Tickets range from $20- $50, depending when and where you purchase them.

The show is set in 1623 after William Shakespeare’s death. Two of Shakespeare’s old friends, from his original theater troupe The King’s Men, decide to work together and publish the First Folio of Shakespeare’s works. The first obstacle they had to overcome was retrieving the remaining pieces of Shakespeare’s original work, which meant using plays salvaged from fires, finding separate specific character scripts, and utilizing the memory of the actors. Then, being able to publish the full folio posed a problem due to the fact that they had no money or rights to the works. The time period made it even harder to find some place to publish such a large collection. The two friends experience and fight through many difficult tasks, but they eventually succeed to publish Shakespeare’s First Folio- something that has never been accomplished before.

The plot of the play is interesting, considering it’s a play about William Shakespeare’s plays and is told from the perspective of his friends. It takes you through a range of emotions, from mourning to joy. The director intends to make the audience focus on the importance and effects of legacy and why it’s important to preserve artistic work. By the end of the play, you’re left pondering why we chose to preserve William Shakespeare and why we still study his work today.

The actors do an amazing job of capturing the era. They really get into their parts and tell you a story through their acting. With only ten cast members, most actors play two parts, but they do it so well you don’t even notice. The play took place on a single stage with a single set. The stage extends out into the audience, so that the audience members get a true front seat view of the play. The actors interact with the entire theater, running out into the audience and performing in the aisles.

There is a slight feminist angle in the play. The director attempts to focus on the impact the women in the men’s lives had. The story is known to credit the two retired King’s Men actors, but it doesn’t address the support behind the curtain. The women in this showing of “The Book of Will” give countless support to their husbands and play a large role in collecting all of Shakespeare’s work. They remember specific monologues and saved lots of old scripts that once belonged to their husbands.

Overall, “The Book of Will” was an interesting twist to Shakespeare. It is the only “Shakespeare” play I’ve seen that isn’t an actual play written by him, so I really enjoyed the set and structure of the performance. I enjoyed the story, but most importantly, I enjoyed the actors who captured the plot so well. I recommend this play to anyone who is a Shakespeare fan and would love to see a story that isn’t commonly told. Take a few of your friends and enjoy a captivating story about William Shakespeare.

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