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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012

APT's Arnold Elevates 'Shakespeare's Will'

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It's widely assumed that legendary author William Shakespeare must have led a remarkable life. Given what we know about him, you'd think that being married to the man must have been remarkable as well. As it turns out, that may not be the case. American Players Theatre renders Vern Thiessen's drama on the life of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife, in the one-woman show Shakespeare's Will.

Tracy Michelle Arnold plays Hathaway, here realized as an articulate individual far from the company of an absentee husband who was almost always off in the city working for the stage. We get very little of the legendary playwright; instead, we get plenty of Hathaway languishing in the country. However, if you're going to watch anyone languishing onstage for a little more than an hour without intermission, you could do much worse than Tracy Michelle Arnold. A talented and seasoned Equity actress, Arnold manages the remarkable job of keeping a less-than-inspired script interesting. She finds a way to add texture and nuance to the performance.

The play speculates on an hour in which Hathaway reminisces about her life before reading her late husband's will. Those of us familiar with the history know what's coming. The connection between Hathaway and Shakespeare is in no way romanticized. The play gets very dark in places. Like any memorial, there are equal parts sadness and celebration. It's just a pity that it's not a little more compelling.

American Players Theatre's production of Shakespeare's Will runs through Oct. 21 at the Touchstone Theatre in Spring Green. For ticket reservations, call 608-588-2361.