Bingo! It’s Shakespeare but not as you’ve seen him

PUBLISHED: 17:48 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:48 11 March 2019

Company of Ten is getting in on the action with their next production Bingo, about the life and death dilemma Shakespeare faced when he had retired from writing and gone back home to Stratford. Picture: Anne Frizell.

Company of Ten is getting in on the action with their next production Bingo, about the life and death dilemma Shakespeare faced when he had retired from writing and gone back home to Stratford. Picture: Anne Frizell.

Anne Frizell.

The Company of Ten will bring Shakespeare the man to life on stage in St Albans in Edward Bond’s play Bingo.

Universally acknowledged as the ultimate master playwright and poet, William Shakespeare’s work is produced and studied all over the world.

Many of the turns of phrase we use today come from his pen, and his plays still resonate strongly for our contemporary society.

Strange then that so little is generally known about the great man himself.

With his play Bingo, Edward Bond has attempted to fill in the blanks, and in the process created an intriguing glimpse of Shakespeare’s later life.

Retired to Warwickshire after his Globe Theatre burns down and no longer writing, Shakespeare must safeguard the rental income he receives from his landed estate.

Suddenly he finds himself caught between the wealthy landlords who are evicting peasant farmers from their lands in order to capitalise on wool production, and those same peasants now left destitute and starving.

Conscience and capitalism meet in one very hefty headbutt.

Matt Clothier is playing Shakespeare and the experience has been an eye-opener for him.

He said: “I think a lot of us feel like we know William Shakespeare, at least a little bit, although there’s really not a lot of first-hand information.

“But because of the plays and the poems many of us feel very close to him.

Bingo is fascinating for the new dimensions it gives to Shakespeare as a person rather than a writer, and in contemplating how his worldliness might have conflicted with his human and artistic instincts.”

Director Angela Stone has loved the Bard all her life.

She said: “My introduction to Shakespeare and his works began when, at the age of 10, I encountered A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was instantly enchanted.

“During my teenage years the Old Vic worked their way through all the plays and I saw each one from the Gallery.

“Since then I have seen many productions in various languages, even Korean and Japanese, and remain entranced and intrigued.

“I have acted in and directed a good number of his plays and still the magic of this man endures.

“But it was not until I read Bond’s Bingo some years ago, that I felt I was perhaps encountering something of the essence of Shakespeare – a flawed, troubled, conflicted genius; a poet and playwright supreme.”

Performances take place in the Abbey Theatre Studio from Friday, March 22 to Saturday, March 23 at 8pm, and then on Sunday, March 24 at 2.30pm.

There are then performances from Tuesday, March 26 to Saturday, March 30 at 8pm.

• To book tickets go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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