A Hoarse Raven Theatre Production

Sharing Shakespeare

Dates: 13 -31 May at 20.00
: Performance Works Theatre

Reviewer: John Jane





Written by: Antony Holland and William Shakespeare
Performed by: Antony Holland
Directed by: Patricia Ludwick

Antony Holland
Antony Holland

Even before going to see Sharing Shakespeare, I found myself asking the question, just how many people might find a solitary sexagenarian chatting about Shakespeare’s prose and verse entertaining. The answer is, probably not everybody. But certainly, it could be just about anyone.

Antony Holland has fashioned an esoteric work that offers a unique and refreshing perspective on the immortal Bard. Dressed casually in a blue polo shirt and tan slacks, Holland’s presentation was low key and unpretentious, yet at the same time enlivening. He is a historian, humourist, storyteller, actor, and teacher.

Holland’s performance did, however, depend on two vital elements for its success. The audience was relied upon, not only to accept that Holland might have had such a personal friendship with the sixteenth-century playwright, but also ‘buy-in’ to his drawing-room style of delivery.

Secondly, pacing was critical in such a loosely structured one-man-show. Even the most skillful communicator can get mired if the pace of the show is wrong.


Here, however, the first act in particular was dead-on, with Holland engaging the audience in amusing anecdotes, relating curious and little-known facts on Shakespeare’s approach to his writing, as well as artfully reciting sonnets and prose from some of the great dramatist's popular works.

The second act was almost entirely given over to King Lear, with Holland remarkably assuming the roles of Lear, Gloucester, and Lear’s daughter Cordelia. Perhaps it was due to the metal chairs, but I did sense some members of the audience squirming in their seats during this part of his performance.

Holland handled the richness of Shakespeare’s language with passion and empathy. He constantly referred to the Bard as 'William,' expanding on his agreeable subterfuge. It seemed perfectly natural for him to view the connection with his hero as personal, since the relationship has been mutually beneficial. Holland may well have included the following quotation from Richard II - ‘I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends.’

© 2003, John Jane