Mar 02

The Shakespeare Company’s ‘Equivocation’ is a quick, smart play.

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

The use of ambiguous expressions, especially to mislead. This is the definition of Equivocation. It’s a running theme in the Shakespeare Company’s production of Equivocation, an extremely smart play by Bill Cain. Cain’s play offers up the idea that Shakespeare was commissioned to write a play about The Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

The play opens to Sir Robert Cecil (Joel Cochrane) telling Shakespeare (Christian Goutsis) that he is to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot for the King. Shag (as he is referred to) protests but doesn’t succeed in getting out of it. He brings the play to his company, Sharpe (the very talented Geoffrey Simon Brown), Nate (Joel Cochrane), Richard (Brian Jensen) and Armin (Karl Sine), as they rehearse a scene from King Lear. Though Shag is weary about writing a play about current events, they convince him to make it happen.

Judith (Genevieve Pare), Shakespeare’s daughter is then introduced. She edits his play and ironically complains about how she dislikes soliloquies while giving one.

The narrative of Equivocation deals with three layers: Shakespeare and his plays, the Gunpowder plot and its history and the these two layers as one. Cain’s play is very quick  and witty in its telling. There are many lines that are tongue and cheek like ‘why did they get rid of purgatory? It gave people who didn’t get into heaven the first time a bit of hope,’ and ‘you a playwright whose very existence will be debated.’

Though the play is directed smartly by Kevin McKendrick, it is easy for the audience to feel a little lost, especially if you’re not informed about the historical context, Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. The production could do with some overall information in the program about these things, as it would be easier to follow along. Actors change characters on stage by removing their hat or revealing revealing their kilt (Brown playing King James I) and it all unfolds so very quickly that sometimes it’s easy to feel lost.

That being said, Equivocation is a strong production with some very good performances. Goutsis makes his return to the Shakespeare Company since his performance as Hamlet, and is a strong and steady Master Shakespeare. Cochrane shows is diversity in performance, playing both Cecil and Nate quite admirably. Sine is also as you haven’t seen him before in his role as Armin. Brown is very talented and it shows as he moves from whiny actor in Shakespeare’s theatre ensemble to the somewhat dimwitted King.

Equivocation is full of history and references to Shakespeare’s play and life. The production is quick and smart, though audiences can get a little lost at times.

The Shakespeare Company, with the generous support of Hit and Myth Productions presents Equivocation, playing at Lunchbox Theatre until March 7th. More information is available online.

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