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Theatre Review: Equivocation

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, May 26, 2011

The play opens with Shakespeare receiving a sack of gold. The King's spymaster - that's his strategy guy -- wants The Bard to write a play. It's an offer Shakespeare can't decline - even though the spymaster is sending him on Mission Impossible.


Shakespeare is charged with writing a play about a recent conspiracy to blow up the King - and Shakespeare must lay out a fictionalized account that will become the popular version of history. It's the sort of thing Oliver Stone might do today.

Shakespeare can't say yes, and can't say no. He equivocates. Pressure is applied as he is forced to witness the execution of one of the conspirators, using a method too gruesome to describe. The drums beat, and the spymaster explains why he wanted Shakespeare as his script doctor.


This is dynamic stuff, delving into the danger of speaking truth to power. It's even richer because the modern playwright who created this script incorporates classic Shakespearean scenes in a most ingenious way. For recovering English majors like me, "Equivocation" is total brain candy. But this story is so compelling almost any adult who appreciates wit and drama will be swept up in the momentum as heart-wrenching moral choices are made on stage.

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