British comedy actor and writer David Mitchell, best known for comedy partnership with Robert Webb on TV's "Peep Show," will play Shakespeare in "Upstart Crow," which explores the playwright’s life before he found fame. The title refers to what is purported to be the earliest written description of Shakespeare, when playwright Robert Greene referred to him as an “upstart crow beautified with our feathers." Written by TV and stage comedy writer Ben Elton, whose stage credits include the plays Popcorn and the musicals We Will Rock You (a jukebox musical featuring the hits of Queen) and The Beautiful Game (an original musical co-written with Andrew Lloyd Webber), the cast will also include Harry Enfield, Paula Wilcox, Liza Tarbuck and Gemma Whelan.
Elton has commented, "I have tried very hard to think myself into Shakespeare’s creative world, writing only with a small chicken feather and not changing my underpants for a year."
Also in the anniversary year, a consortium of leading cultural, creative and educational organizations, coordinated by King’s College London, has been formed under the umbrella name Shakespeare400, that will offer a connected series of public performances, programmes, exhibitions, performances and creative activities in London and beyond to celebrate the legacy of Shakespeare during the quatercentenary year.