Wild Bill – Sonnet of a Bardsterd

Michael Longhi as Shakespeare in Wild Bill. Photo: Mark Drake Michael Longhi as Shakespeare in Wild Bill. Photo: Mark Drake

In this portrait of William Shakespeare Michael Longhi offers us a man close to madness in rage at a world that, both in his own time and afterwards, lost any sense of him in reshaping him to meet their needs.

Refusing to be either the plaster saint of their bardolatry, the villain of their authorship disputes or the enigma of their inability to read him, he expresses equal contempt for all who don’t understand and appreciate him as he wishes and deserves. 

Unfortunately Longhi’s mode of conveying this mix of frustration, self-assertion and righteous anger is to play Bill as all but incoherent as he rages and rambles. Longhi the writer cleverly has Shakespeare frequently quote himself with the ease of one whose words these naturally are. But Longhi the actor makes the man have constant trouble spitting those words out, so overcome is he with passions that distort his face, contort his body and make him look like a mix of constipation and John Hurt in Alien. 

There is an impressive amount of energy in Longhi’s performance, and a whole lot of capital-A Acting. But without control, focus and sufficient attention to the need for simple communication, it comes out as little more than sound and fury, and what that signifies.

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Portrait of a very angry Shakespeare has too little beyond sound and fury