Sweet William – June 2007


By: Michael Pennington

Venue: Mill Studio, Guildford

Date: Friday 29th June 2007

This was a lovely evening in the company of an actor with tremendous in-depth knowledge of Shakespeare and his work. We’d heard Michael Pennington describe his introduction to Shakespeare at the age of eleven before, at the RSC Summer School, but apart from that enjoyable reprise, everything was new and all of it was very interesting.

He combined a trip through Shakespeare’s life with extracts from the plays. So for Will’s childhood, we got the dialogue between Mamillius and Leontes from The Winter’s Tale. He emphasised that very little is known about Shakespeare’s life, and he adds in one of his own ideas to explain Will’s disappearance for several years before emerging as an actor in London. He reckons that Will was himself working and travelling with the strolling players who were common in England at that time. He backed this up with one of the sonnets – sorry, don’t know which one – about returning to one’s true love after straying, which suggests to him the experience of a young man travelling about the country and enjoying the freedoms of many young players at that time.

I don’t remember all the details of his performance now, but it was a delightful evening, full of interest and moving performances.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me