American Players Theatre THE BOOK OF WILL Review – Collecting Shakespeare

American Players Theatre Presents The Book of Will - Collecting Shakespeare - a Highly Recommended Best Play Pick running through October 5, 2019.

Erosion you can stop. If you act fast.

What would the world be like without Shakespeare? Would the Renaissance have been the same? Would modern theatre be the same? The world would be a much different place without the influence of Shakespeare’s legacy, but it was only through his fellow company members and friends we have his works today. In THE BOOK OF WILL, we see this process of saving Shakespeare’s legacy come to life

American Players Theatre THE BOOK OF WILL
Michael Goldstein

American Players Theatre Explores What If?

Shakespeare’s closest friends and the last remaining members of his theatre troupe, The King’s Men, gather at their favorite watering hole. They criticize the performance of Hamlet they just saw and lament how Will’s words are being butchered and copied dozens of times over. They face the reality that soon no one will remember his true works.

American Players Theatre THE BOOK OF WILL
La Shawn Banks, Melisa Pereyra, James Ridge, Jim DeVita & Cassia Thompson

Cue lightbulb.

What if they put together a collection of his plays? What if they were able to preserve the Shakespeare they know in order for his works not be eroded through time? In THE BOOK OF WILL, we follow John Heminges and Henry Condell through their journey of publishing the First Folio of Shakespeare’s work. As they face obstacle after obstacle, they keep pushing forward because they discover this is so much more than just remembering a friend, it’s securing his legacy.

American Players Theatre THE BOOK OF WILL
Michael Goldstein
American Players Theatre THE BOOK OF WILL
The Book of Will, 2019

Work of Fiction, But Real Themes

THE BOOK OF WILL is an entirely fictitious work as the playwright Lauren Gunderson imagines how these friends collected, put together, and published Shakespeare’s entire works.

 But the story is packed with much more than just Renaissance references. There’s tons of characters, side stories, and relatable themes. These characters take on a massive undertaking all while still struggling through everyday life. They learn the importance of preserving works because of what could be lost. They deal with loss and how we must keep living. They find the power of love and friendship.

Stellar Delivery

The cast delivers on these moments, in this writer’s opinion, with a realness that makes us feel like we’re going through these same struggles and triumphs as our characters. James Ridge and Jim DeVita play the pair of John Heminges and Henry Condell. We watch as they work together supporting each other and lifting each other up as a mark of true friendship.

American Players Theatre THE BOOK OF WILL
Josh Krause

Their wives played by Tracy Michelle Arnold and Colleen Madden have us laughing at their sass as they get their husbands into shape. They, along with Melisa Pereyra as the daughter Alice Heminges, give us a glimpse behind the curtain at who really keeps this show running. They all create a loving and supportive environment to get this massive project done that might have some in the audience (this writer included) tearing up.

THE BOOK OF WILL packs a lot of themes and emotions into one play. It will strike a chord with anyone who faces an overwhelming project and inspire them to see it through. It’s a good fit for lovers of the Bard and for those looking for a feel good night out at the theatre.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

CAST:

Jim DeVita
James Ridge
Colleen Madden
Tracy Michelle Arnold
Melisa Pereyra
La Shawn Banks
David Daniel
Tim Gittings
Triney Sandoval
Jeb Burris
Charles Pasternak
Sarah Day
Ty Fanning
Phoebe González
Michael Goldstein
Alys Dickerson
Josh Krause
Xavier Roe
Ted Deasy
Cassia Thompson
Isaac Daniel, Heidi Hegland, Jameson Ridge, Eli Saperstein, Gus Truschinski

CREATIVE:

Tim Ocel
Sara Becker
Trace Turner
Holly Payne
Nathan Stuber
Jesse Klug
Gregg Coffin
Jessica Bess Lanius
Brandi Mans
Jane E. Heer
Evelyn Matten

When:

Now through October 5, 2019
Performance schedule varies; check website for details

Where:

American Players Theatre
Hill Theatre
5950 Golf Course Rd.
Spring Green, WI

Tickets:

$28+
Full price tickets can be purchased through the American Players Theatre website or by calling the box office at 608.588.2361

Photos by Liz Lauren

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

Alexis Bugajski Photo: Liz Lin

About the Author

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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