Being Shakespeare

Previewed 15 June 2011, Opened 22 June 2011, Closed 23 July 2011 at the Trafalgar Studios
Opened 7 March 2012, Closed 31 March 2012 at the Trafalgar Studios
Opened 26 February 2014, Closed 15 March 2014 at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Simon Callow returns to London's West End with his one-man show Being Shakespeare, based on the life and works of William Shakespeare.

Performed by Simon Callow and written by Jonathan Bate from the works of William Shakespeare, directed by Tom Cairns with lighting by Bruno Poet and sound and music by Ben Ringham and Max Ringham. This production was originally seen in the West End at the Trafalgar Studios from 22 June to 23 July 2011, returning the following from 7 to 31 March. It now returns to London for a third time, with a strictly limited season of 23 performances at the Harold Pinter Theatre. The show was originally presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010.

"Frankly, one's heart sank at the prospect of the old boy appearing in Being Shakespeare. The title alone made me shiver: most other actors would be content simply to appear in a play by the Bard, without actually metamorphosing into him. In the event, this one-man show is unexpectedly rather good. It shows how the tragedies and triumphs of the playwright's life inform his most eloquent and heartfelt writing. But it is the little human touches that Callow invests his Shakespeare with which prove the most affecting. Callow is at his best these days when he is doing his least." The Sunday Telegraph

"Simon Callow is a commanding actor who would surely have liked to play more Shakespeare roles in his career, but his style is rather too extravagant for our times. That same flamboyance works well when he's on his own. Using as a structure Jaques's speech from As You Like It, describing the seven ages of man, Callow and the inspiring scholar Jonathan Bate combine fact and speculation to trace the likely course of the playwright's life. Callow slips remarkably easily between the narration and Shakespeare's words... It's a fine introduction for a novice, as well as a treat for those who know the plays." The Sunday Times

"Being Shakespeare's presenter is that fruitiest of actors, Simon Callow. He's mighty but also Marmitey. All that bewhiskered, lip-smacking relish, the mellifluous boom and the slightly camp strutting that I find so affecting as it burns with passion for Shakespeare's language and characters, sets some people's teeth on edge... He's certainly the perfect man for the job, which is obviously why eminent Shakespearean scholar Jonathan Bate wrote the piece for him. Being Shakespeare is part biography, part illustrated commentary, and Bate's structure comes from the 'All the world's a stage' speech in As You Like It, which charts the seven ages of man. Bate links these to Shakespeare's own life... Not that he always persuades. His statement that 'Elizabethans adored their children and when one died they mourned them deeply' is somewhat sweeping. Mostly though, Bate's insights are fascinating, specially his description of Shakespeare's grammar school education - grammar and more grammar - which is a vivid explanation of how the playwright's rhetorical skills were honed. Callow illustrates this with a stunning delivery of Mark Antony's awesome speech from Julius Caesar. The wholly-deserved standing ovation that greeted Callow's performance was, I suspect, as much for Shakespeare as for Callow. A more vibrant, infectiously enthusiastic introduction to Shakespeare is hard to imagine." The Mail on Sunday

Being Shakespeare in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre opened on 26 February 2014 and closeed on 15 March 2014.