"Shakespeare's Will," on stage this month at Cyrano's, appears simple at first glance. The set, though beautifully decorated, isn't stunning, and there is only one cast member.
But don't be fooled: This production is all about the acting -- all about Elizabeth Ware, who takes on the role of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare. She embodies the spirit of Shakespeare's spouse, best friend and the person who never really knew the famous playwright.
Though Ware may have been the only cast member, she imitated several other characters, including Shakespeare, her children, and her husband's sister, Susanna. "Jesus Christ!" echoed throughout the small intimate theater as Ware imitated her very Protestant and anti-Catholic father, one of the few times the play took a more humorous tone.
Most of the production is very somber. After returning from Shakespeare's funeral, Ware takes the audience back to the day Hathaway and the playwright first met. The entire play is a mix between flashbacks of Hathaway's relationship -- or lack thereof -- with Shakespeare and the day of the funeral as the new widow decides whether to open her husband's will.
Helped by a good lighting scheme, Ware did an excellent job of making these transitions seamless for the audience. In fact, she was so good that when she hated Bill -- as she called Shakespeare -- the audience hated him; when she laughed, the audience laughed. Many of these transitions were made in a split second -- bringing to light the confusion that Hathaway herself may have felt.
The hour and forty-five minute production might have been lackluster and boring if any other actress had been in the role. But the set and prop designer also deserves some praise. From the wooden sailing boat that little Hamnet played with to the ominous window, Ware made full use of the set, a room in Stratford-upon-Avon, imbuing a sense of realism.
Felix Rivera is a student at Alaska Pacific University and an intern at the Daily News.