Ever since Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, pundits have asked, "Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare?" Could a boy from the provinces turned-London actor really produce the greatest plays in the English language? Or was he really a noble too embarrassed to be thought of as associating with common theatrical folk? Amy Freed comtemplates these possibilities in her latest, The Beard of Avon, ending its world premiere run July 1 at South Coast Repertory Theatre. David Emmes,who directed the world premiere of Freed's Freedomland, also directs this comedy.
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 Earl of Oxford or Sir Francis Bacon or even Queen Elizabeth herself.
Douglas Weston (Blood Brothers, Working Title) stars as Shakespeare. Also in the cast are Mark Harelik (author of the musical Lost Highway) as Edward de Vere, Nike Doukas (Queen Elizabeth), Robert Curtis Brown, Richard Doyle and Don Took.
Performances of The Beard of Avon began May 25 with an opening June 1. Tickets are $18-$49. South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. For reservations, call (714) 708-5555. South Coast Repertory is on the web at http://www.scr.org.
— By Christine Ehren