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August 8, 2012 / Amy Bradney-George

Theatre Review: A Gift To The Future

Shakespeare is (and probably always will be) a household name. Everyone knows the plays to some extent, most at least know of the sonnets and every year thousands (if not millions) of people read or speak his words.

But what of the man?Image

That is the premise of A Gift To The Future, the one man show created and performed by UK actor Colin David Reese. In this intimate piece of theatre, Reese takes on the role of John Heminges, one of the original Shakespearean actors who was also integral in producing the First Folio.

The play opens with Heminges returning from the printers and wondering, aloud whether the “ghosts of the future” will know “young Will’s” name. The audience becomes these ghosts, with Heminges asking of the future and whether or not we know Shakespeare’s work.

Reese executed this brilliant piece of audience participation so skillfully that it felt more like we had gone back in time some 400 years, and that Heminges himself had invited us in to talk about his adventures with Shakespeare.

It’s hard to create that kind of feel in a play, let alone when you are the only player with lines, but A Gift To The Future was so engaging that it felt more like a conversation than a performance.

The stories of Shakespeare composing plays were interspersed with verses from the plays, adding even more depth and heart to Reese’s performance.

Colin David Reese is a man with not just a passion for Shakespeare, but a profound understanding of the history and meaning behind each of his works, and I only wish he was in Australia longer, or had done a bigger run so I could watch this play again.

While I think the title of the play is referring to Shakespeare’s works, his “gift to the future” as it were, Colin David Reese has given us a gift for the present. It inspired me, it made the audience laugh, sigh and even cry during some of the monologues performed.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that it reminded me why I love Shakespeare’s works, and how relevant they will always be.

A Gift To The Future was performed in Melbourne at Kindred Studios with the support of Eagle’s Nest Theatre.You can find out more about the production, and Colin David Reese’s work at Shakespeare Unbound.

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