Was William Shakespeare’s Dark Lady of the Sonnets actually a sunny boy of the stage?
Oscar Wilde asked that question in his story/essay, “The Portrait of W.H.,” which examined whether Shakespeare’s passion was for a young male actor in his theatre troupe. In Wilde’s view, the Bard wrote some of his greatest female roles, and Sonnets, for the boy.
Mixing fictional and historical characters, playwright Blair Fell examines both Wilde and Shakespeare in his comedy, Naked Will, which comes to the Bailiwick Theatre’s mainstage May 18-July 2, opening May 21 in Chicago. The piece is part of Bailiwick’s gay and lesbian-themed festival, Pride 2000.
Fell is the writer-director of Burning Habits and The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun. Naked Will received a reading at New York City’s John Houseman Theatre in March 1999.
Starring in Naked Will are Michael Hampton (Wilde), Tony Maietta (Shakespeare) and Shawn Quinlan (the boy). Other cast-members include Steven Strafford, Steve Rifkin and Gillian Reeves Pollack. Designing the show are Miriam Sohn (costumes), Eric Appleton (lighting), Dan Griffiths (set) and Brian LeTraunik (fight choreography). For tickets and information on Naked Will, at the Bailiwick Arts Center call (773) 883-1090.
-- By David Lefkowitz