The Upstart Crow ★★★★★ Apollo Theatre | Sep 23 - Dec 3, 2022


It's 1605 and playwright, William Shakespeare, needs a hit if he is going to maintain the patronage of the new king. The Upstart Crow is a thoroughly delightful insight into the difficult life of an artist who, while seeking inspiration, is beset by his landlady's progressive daughter who aspires to be an actress, by a pair of his own daughters who are quite happy to abandon him after receiving his estate and by a pompous and demanding actor/theatrical entrepreneur named Richard Burbage. Add to this a dancing bear and Shakespeare's life is not an easy one! Ben Elton has a written a wonderfully whimsical comedy, and it is acted to perfection. David Mitchell never over plays his role as the harried Shakespeare who is attacked on all sides by what he gradually realises might be inspirations for his next great play. Mitchell is hilarious as the bard who can never call a door simply a door, and he is brilliantly supported Gemma Whelan as the actress wannabe, Kate. John Gordon Sinclair as Dr John Hall, Rob Rouse as Bottom and Stewart Wright as Burbage all hit absolutely the right note, while Helen Monks and Danielle Phillips are excellent as the bard's slighted daughters. Gloria Onitiri and Jason Callender are uproarious as mismatched twins, and Reice Weathers as Mr Whiskers dances his way into the audience's heart. As Shakespeare wrote "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly" and the pacing of this show is simply impeccable. There is no let up in the laughs and it all ends too soon. Shakespeare gains the patronage of James I, and The Upstart Crow deserves to be seen by everyone who enjoys a great comedy.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Johan Persson.

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