Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare? Amy Freed's popular new comedy, The Beard of Avon asks that question and much, much more. Jan. 16, the American Conservatory Theatre opens the play in San Francisco with Matthew Boston as Shakspere and Kandis Chappell as Queen Elizabeth. Mark Rucker directs. The Beard of Avon proposes that Shakespeare, the actor (here spelled Shakspere, in homage to a man who rarely spelled his last name the same way twice) was a "beard" or cover up for a more genteel writer. Perhaps this mysterious person is the lecherous Earl of Oxford or Sir Francis Bacon or even Her Highness Queen Elizabeth. Bay Area playwright Freed is the author of Freedomland and The Psychic Life of Savages.
Joining Boston and Chappell in the cast are Marco Barricelli (De Vere), original Beard of Avon cast member Rene Augesen (Anne Hathaway), Brian Keith Russell (Burbage et al), Sean Dooley (Dunderbread et al), Alex Moggridge (Earl of Southampton), Charles Lanyer (John Heminge) and Charles Dean (Henry Condel).
Designing the show are Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Beaver Bauer (costumes), Peter Maradudin (lights) and Garth Hemphill (sound).
The Beard of Avon plays through Feb. 10. For ticket information, call (415) 749-2250. American Conservatory Theatre is located at 415 Geary Street. American Conservatory Theatre is on the web at http://www.act-sfbay.org.
— By Christine Ehren