The Last Will

Date 26th July 2019
Society Washington Theatre Group
Venue Washington Arts Centre
Type of Production Play
Director Danny Stones
Producer Marie Lovell

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Author: Foster Johnson

I have seen a number of adaptations of the life and works of William Shakespeare both on screen and in the theatre, but this play performed by Washington Theatre Group was a first for me. What an excellent production it was.

It recounts the tale of an aged Shakespeare returning to his estranged wife and family in Stratford upon Avon after 27 years of success in London, suffering from a malaise of the brain contracted from his high living and low moral values, seeking peace and reconciliation. From the aptly named title of the play, itself a clever play on words, it also revolves around family inheritance issues, which because of his confused state of mind, whereby, by equating his family with characters from his works, he disinherits his wife Anne for perceived adultery with his brother and daughter Judith, whom he claims is not his child, in favour of his eldest daughter Susanna, whose secret lover the Lawyer Collins, manipulates the will making process in her favour. Acting as Shakespeare’s conscious and friend is theatrical actor Burbage but who as a leading light in development of the Globe Theatre has his own agenda  and is keen to use his persuasive powers and glib tongue full of Shakespearean quotations to keep the author involved and not to retire.

The outcome was an excellent rendition of the play where every aspect of human behaviour and frailty was displayed. Well done Director Danny stones. As for the cast they could not be faulted and deserve all credit for a job well done.

Steve Pinkney was excellent as Will and played the dysfunctional author true to character portraying all of the traits one would expect from such a tormented soul. Ingrid Middleton delivered a faultless performance in role of the estranged Anne Hathaway and was an ideal foil for Steve. Joanne Mclernon and Angela Marshall were totally believable as the daughters Susanna and Judith and displayed the nuances of their contrasting characters ideally. Peter Wilson undertook the role of Burbage and his mastery of the complicated dialogue he was required to deliver was spot on Finally John Seymour once again showed what a fine actor he is as he played the Machiavellian Lawyer Collins to a “T”