Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Mrs Shakespeare, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
What if William Shakespeare was a woman? And how do we know that he wasn’t? These may sound like ridiculous questions, but beneath the superficial irreverence of this one-woman show is a small-scale subversive comedy about the lack of female voices in drama for most of its history.
Imaginatively written by Ian Wild and warmly performed by Irene Kelleher, it follows a wide-eyed woman who believes she’s the reincarnation of Britain’s most recognisable playwright. Dressed in glittery pink and silver Elizabethan clothing and armed with a quill, she sets about rewriting Hamlet as “Ophelia”, systematically killing off the protesting male characters as they try and stop her.
It soon becomes apparent that our increasingly agitated host has mental health issues, which lead her to believe her psychiatrist is a re-born Christopher Marlowe hell-bent on stealing her ideas. While more insight into this clearly troubled woman would provide a deeper play, it’s invigorating to hear someone lay into a playwright usually unquestioningly adored, to criticise his work and literally tear it up.
As she is carted off to a psychiatric prison, you can’t help cheering her determination to place women centre stage, for no other reason than a belief that this is where they should be.
Paradise in The Vault (Venue 29) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 28 August 2015
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