Michael Pennington’s one-man show about the life and work of Shakespeare is as much a verbal essay as a performance piece. Drawing on his years of experience in the field - he estimates it at around 20,000 hours of performing Shakespeare to date - Pennington takes the audience on a detailed journey from the Bard’s birth and childhood in Stratford-upon-Avon, right until his death. Working with the limited amount of facts that are known about Shakespeare’s life, he attempts to give shape to Shakespeare as a man, to form a picture of the person behind the plays.
As he does this, he also takes time to reflect on his own relationship with the work of Shakespeare, a fascination that began when he first saw Macbeth performed at the age of 11. He frequently illustrates his arguments by reciting relevant passages from the plays, by acting them out. His warm, charismatic delivery stops this from turning into a dry academic exercise or from sliding into self-indulgence, which is always a danger with a show such as this. Instead, what continually comes across is his passion for theatre, Shakespeare in particular, and his joy at being able to speak those words, an enthusiasm that remains undimmed.