The Two Noble Kinsmen, King Edward III, and Double Falsehood, presented by Atlanta's New American Shakespeare Tavern (March-June 2011)

Joanne E. Gates
Jacksonville State University

Joanne E. Gates, "Review of Shakespeare and Fletcher's The Two Noble Kinsmen, Shakespeare's King Edward III, and Lewis Theobald's Double Falsehood (occasionally attributed to Fletcher and Shakespeare) presented by Atlanta's New American Shakespeare Tavern (March-June 2011)." EMLS 16.1 (2012): 18.

The Two Noble Kinsmen. Director: Troy Willis. Costume Design:  Anné Carol Butler. Lighting Design: Harley Gould. Fight Director: Drew Reeves. Choreography: Katie Grace Morton. Music Written or Arranged by: Debra Peterson, Clarke Weigle, Stuart McDaniel, Amy Vyas. With Andrew Houchins ( Theseus, Duke of Athens), Drew Reeves (Pirithous, an Athenian General), Daniel Parvis (Palamon), Matt Nitchie (Arcite), Paul Hester (Bavian, Wooer to the Jailer’s Daughter), Winslow Thomas (Jailer/Keeper) Clarke Weigle (Doctor), Nicholas Faircloth (Gerrold, a schoolmaster) Mary Saville (Hippolyta) Kathryn Lawson (Emilia), Amee Vyas (Jailer’s Daughter), Stuart McDaniel (Prologue/Epilogue), Debra Peterson (Woman) Eve Butler, Erin Considine, Becky Cormier Finch (Three Queens).


Edward III. Director: Andrew Houchins. Costume Design: Anné Carol Butler. Lighting Design: Harley Gould. Fight Director: Drew Reeves. With Drew Reeves (King Edward III), Matt Felten (Edward, Prince of Wales, his son), John Curran (Lord Audley), Stuart McDaniel (Lodwick, King Edward’s Secretary), William S. Murphey (John the Second, King of France ), Nicholas Faircloth (Charles, Duke of Normandy, his son), Stephen Hanthorn (Philip, his second son), Josie Burgin Lawson (Philippe, Queen of England), Mary Russell (Countess of Salisbury).


Double Falsehood. Director: Andrew Houchins. Costume Designer: Anné Carol Butler. Lighting Design: Mary Ruth Ralston. Fight Choreographer: Drew Reeves. With Daniel Parvis (Duke Angelo / Master of the Flocks), Jeff Watkins (Citizen), Matt Felten (Roderick/Gerald), Jonathan Horne (Henriquez), Jacob York (Don Bernardo / Shepherd), Kelly Criss (Leonora/Maid / Shepherd), Clarke Weigle (Camillo / 1st Gentleman), Nicholas Faircloth (Julio / Violante’s Servant), Mary Russell (Violante).


  1.  The New American Shakespeare Tavern of Atlanta, Georgia, reached its goal of completing performances of Shakespeare's entire 39-play canon on March 17, 2011 with their official opening of Edward III, a play still not included in some editions of the complete works. More remarkably, the play ran in repertory with The Two Noble Kinsmen, opening just a week earlier.  The Tavern claims to be the only American theatre to have accomplished performances of the 39-play canon. This enterprise had begun the previous June with a public notice about a financial crisis that led to the awarding of a $50,000 challenge grant; the canon completion project emerged amid this effort to revitalize the financial standing of the company (Rhue). Coming as it did on the heels, more or less, of Eric Piepenberg's New York Times article on those who pursue the completion of a personal canon, the Tavern’s announced project gave me the opportunity to complete my own 39-play canon of attendance at performances, having seen Shakespeare at two Stratfords, in London, Boston, Minneapolis, New York and New England, and most recently, in Montgomery, Alabama.

  2. When the Tavern announced their ambitious project, they had yet to mount Henry VIII and Timon of Athens. Timon (not seen by this reviewer) ran in November 2010, with Maurice Ralson playing Timon and just three other credited roles, the rest assigned to an eight-performer "ensemble" playing multiple parts. More ambitiously, Henry VIII played in repertory with Maxwell Anderson's Anne of the Thousand Days in October 2010. At the Henry performances, the audience was greeted with the announcement that the company had completed the traditional thirty-seven play canon (that is, all plays in the First Folio, plus Pericles).  Just as Henry required a full commitment to a large cast with very minimal doubling, so too did the ambitious Two Noble Kinsmen. It was all the more remarkable, then, that Kinsmen was performed in tandem with the very different yet surprisingly Shakespearean Edward III.  In the midst of preparing this bill, artistic director Jeff Watkins explained after the performance of Double Falsehood,  the company discovered that the Arden Shakespeare series had published Double Falsehood, and that the iPhone Shakespeare app lists it as Shakespeare's fortieth play.[1] Without delay, the Tavern added Double Falsehood to their summer 2011 repertory, aware that the Royal Shakespeare Company had also announced their intention to embrace the play (other groups have also staged the work; see Hammond 123-31; 156-8 and Soloski). In rehearsing the play, Watkins explained in his pre-show speech, the company came to the conclusion that Double Falsehood was no more Shakespeare's than the eighteenth century version that Lewis Theobald directed and published (claiming that it was the "lost" Cardenio and that he had surveyed three manuscript copies, one of which was in the "Handwriting of Mr. Downes, the famous Old Prompter";  (qtd. in Hammond 21).  The Tavern thus considers its claim to have performed the complete canon to be based on the 39-play accomplishment, and in production gave Double Falsehood a brilliant and campy dismissal. Still, given that the Arden Shakespeare series now includes the play and that notable Shakespearean authorities Gary Taylor and Stephen Greenblatt have been involved in producing their own reconstructed versions of Cardenio, the Tavern's mounting merits some comment here.

     Kinsmen Kinsmen

    Fig. 1: The Two Noble Kinsmen. Arcite (Matt Nitchie) and Palamon (Daniel Parvis). Photo: Scott King

    The Two Noble Kinsmen
  3. Performing two of the remaining non-Folio additions to the canon made for an appropriate way to announce the Tavern’s accomplishment. The Two Noble Kinsmen, securely established as co-authored by Shakespeare, is a curious blend of Chaucer's The Knight's Tale with a fascinating subplot about a Jailer's Daughter driven mad by unrequited love for Palamon. This production rightly followed the established production history in giving the Jailer's Daughter (Amee Vyas) both strength and charm. Her gradual descent into madness (with an insane "logic" that rivals Ophelia's stage time) and her subsequent recovery by the trick of her Wooer pretending to be Palamon, was performed in such a way as to feel genuinely restorative.

  4. The two kinsmen, Palamon and Arcite, were equal centerpieces of the main plot. In this production, Palamon and Arcite included the audience in their friendship and predicament; many times they took their non verbal gestures to the house for extra effect. For example, when they were brought in on stretchers in their second scene, captive and wounded, Theseus gave the order to treat them well and heal their wounds; in response, they gave each other a triumphal fist-bump. I thought their "toying" with the manacles on their writs a bit overdone (at one point early in their captivity, Arcite slipped one manacle completely off his wrist, made a double-take to the audience, and then slipped it back on). Equally awkward was the Daughter's dependence on one prominent prop, a metal file that seemed uncharacteristically modern. The most appropriate marking of the cousins' unusual predicament—sworn compatriots until sight of the beautiful Emilia causes their antagonism—came when they brought their differences to the height of a formal contest, Arcite supplying and dressing Palamon in stolen armor. Neither really wanted to defeat the other, so every imaginable hesitation was inserted for comic yet tension-filled effect. They squared off, almost gave it up, touched swords, backed away, came at it again, clanged swords (a solid ring of finely burnished steel rang through the theatre and hung in the air) until, just when they had begun to get serious, Theseus and his train appeared and disrupted their secret bout.

  5. The production ran long; with the exception of reducing Palamon and Arcite's knights to two apiece instead of three, the company performed the complete text. Especially rewarding was scene 3.5 in which the Schoolmaster and Morris Dancers present their entertainment to Theseus and the royal court. The wonderful choreography and music blended the awkwardness of the "mad as a March hare" Jailer's Daughter and the countryman in a monkey suit (the Bavian instructed to "carry your tail without offence / Or scandal to the ladies" [3.5.35-6]) with a robust and celebratory performance. In this production, the Jailer's daughter did not become one of the female dancers needed to complete a missing couple (a possibility hinted at in the text when the dancers lack one of their women [3.5.38] and when a Countryman later says of the Jailer's Daughter, "If we can get her dance, we are made again" [3.5.74]); instead, she was a supportive character who handed out the ribbons for the maypole.  The Morris dance and Maypole celebration provided a robust pre-intermission scene. 

    Kinsmen maypole

    Fig. 2: Maypole scene in The Two Noble Kinsmen. Nicholas Faircloth (Gerrold), Amee Vyas (Jailer's Daughter), Paul Hester (Bavian). Photo: Scott King

  6. Those who have studied or taught the play might have been underwhelmed by the lack of gravitas in this production's characterization of Emilia. Kathryn Lawson was elegant in her 2.2 flower scene with the matronly Debra Peterson a convenient foil as the woman who assists Emilia in gathering flowers. When the focus turned back to Palamon and Arcite and their spat, we knew the main plot of the play was finally engaged. The audience erupted into a perfect, all-comprehending laugh at Palamon's "I saw her first!" Later, however, Emilia's dilemma over the two portraits of the lovers came off as fraught and over-shrill. Lawson's portraits of the two kinsmen were tiny lockets on small chains or ribbons she had draped over the palm of her hand so she could inspect and cherish each. Peterson played her soliloquy in scene 4.2, (beginning "Enter Emilia, alone, with two pictures") mostly on the ground, agitated and almost writhing. Perhaps, though, there is a point to be made in the fact that Emilia's agony over her inability to choose drives her to a madness not unlike the madness of Jailer's daughter who by this point is delusional. Either way, the queen's sister's dignity was restored by the moving last scene.

  7. Likewise, there were strengths amid the minor diversions elsewhere. Early in the play, the three queens of Thebes chanted and sung their appeal to Theseus, dressed in black and hauntingly solemn and supplicative.  In the scene that begins Act V, the three altars of the gods were staged simply, with sound effects only, and a single rose in a vase the only register of Diana's signal to Emilia.  (There was no attempt to stage the silver hind, nor the full rose tree from which a single rose should fall.)  The strength of the cast in the subplot was anchored by the Jailer who stood out especially in the late scenes. When his Daughter grew most delusional, imagining the machinations of a sailing ship, she asks "Where's your compass?" The Jailer affirmed his "Here" (4.1.143) by pounding his heart and standing firm in support of her directions.

  8. Many scholars have pointed out the play’s resonances with Shakespeare's canon: Ophelia is reincarnated as the mad Jailer's Daughter, who references Desdemona's willow song; the commoners who group to rehearse and then entertain Theseus during wedding festivities seem a revisiting of the same device from A Midsummer Night's Dream; the Schoolmaster Gerrold is a comic echo of another pedant, Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost. Another close allusion emerged while I witnessed the action for the first time: the Jailer's Daughter's concern that a ship in the distance has tumbled on the rocks (scene 3.4) is richly evocative of Miranda's concern at the beginning of the Tempest.[2]  When the shipwreck vision re-emerges in her mad scene, and the Jailer's Brother, his Friend and the Wooer assist in getting her under control, they cooperate by complying with her commands to manage a ship that needs steering. Her "Bear for it, master; / Tack about!" was physicalized as she rode her helpers off, as if on a ship. This moment nicely echoed the promise made by the Prologue (effectively highlighted with a gesture by Stuart McDaniel), that the company would, if it were "too ambitious" to aspire to Chaucer, "tack about / And something do to save us" (26-7); the Prologue's hand gesture of a tacking ship was thus realized in the group portrait of the Jailer's daughter riding her way to safety as the group carrying her tacked in a diagonal weave.

  9. Equally restorative was the Jailer's daughter's final scene. Clarke Weigle’s over eager and broad comic performance as the Doctor might be thought to be in accordance with the scene as written, as he prompts the Wooer to offer sex to the Daughter as a curative, while she believes him to be her Palamon. Yet critics find some ambiguity in the text, for the Jailer's Daughter's last lines are, "But you shall not hurt me. . . . If you do, love, I'll cry" (5.2.110-11).  Amee Vyas convinced her audience that there was one right way to play the resolution, and that was with the sweet comfort that her Wooer (embodied by Paul Hester as a diminutive copy, just her size, of the Palamon of Daniel Parvis) would love her to her satisfaction. The two left the stage enwrapped in each other's arms: he carried her off with her knees encircling his upper torso, the two kissing wholeheartedly.  

    Kinsmen jailers daughter

    Fig. 3: Amee Vyass as Jailer's Daughter, The Two Noble Kinsmen. Photo: Scott King

  10. Even though the last scene contained a rushed and almost garbled expository speech by Drew Reeves as Pirithous explaining the twist of fate that causes Arcite's horse to fall on him and crush the victor, the impact of the surprising dénouement was hardly diminished. Especially powerful was the fierce cry of "Hold, Hold, Hold" at the moment that the defeated Palamon was slated to have his head chopped by an effectively realistic battle axe (5.4.40) — it seemed that all who were backstage were screaming the line, just as the axe was drawn back to strike a blow. Touching stage portraits included Emilia giving Arcite her farewell kiss and accepting Palamon as the fate the gods decreed. Harold Bloom has argued that Theseus's final speech must also be Shakespeare's final speech for the stage (697, 712-13), rather than the closing lines of The Tempest. Kristen Hall's program essay, "Shakespeare's Rare Plays" posits the same theory, asking readers whether they agree that Theseus, not Prospero, was awarded "Shakespeare's last grand speech for the stage" (10). Stuart McDaniel then had the unenviable task of holding the audience through the extra-apologetic Epilogue that most editors acknowledge to be Fletcher's. But his clear diction and earnest delivery connected his summary to what the attendees had experienced. Despite the complicated syntax of the eighteen-line epilogue, McDaniel allowed the audience to absorb the sobering finale so that it could then reward the full ensemble for its ambitious undertaking.

    Edward III

  11. Edward III leaves the impression of a rare find, a re-discovered play that has very distinct Shakespearean imprints. Yet it presents difficulties in production. It is simpler than most of Shakespeare's histories (scholars such as J. J. M. Tobin point out that its lack of a comic subplot is an argument against Shakespeare's authorship; 1733), but its rough edges are glaring. Despite this, the producers at the Tavern stress in their program notes that the early action associated with the wooing of the Countess of Salisbury and the later, mostly battle action, make a unified play. The 1998 New Cambridge edition of the play, edited by Giorgio Melchiori, is not the only text available; Eric Sams edited the play for Yale University Press in 1996 and it has also found its way into the second editions of Shakespeare's complete works published by Oxford University Press, W. W. Norton and the Riverside Shakespeare. Scholars pursue elaborate word and phrasing parallels: any half-trained ear will notice the close emotional link between the Countess of Salisbury sequences and the poet's self criticism and the lure of the "Dark Lady" in the sonnets. The action of the latter part of the play is clumsy for the mature histories yet nevertheless enough of a rough theatricalization of Holinshed that thematic resonances between this early history and others ascribed to Shakespeare resonate. On stage, this was especially apparent in the manner in which King John of France, his sons and couriers were portrayed.  The production proved the company's facility with Shakespeare’s history plays and effectively stressed the contrasts between the obviously destined-to-lose French and the noble English, who had touching life stories succinctly embedded in the arc of the battle sequences. William S. Murphey played the French King John with just enough seriousness at his own importance that the audience understood him as buffoonish without his overplaying it. A series of three dire reports from French Heralds was pointedly dramatic, partly due to the fact that the Heralds were each dressed with a giant fleur de lis covering the costume front. Repeatedly, it seems, Edward the king challenges his son, Prince Edward, to prevail in an assignment. Whenever doubt is expressed, the younger warrior triumphs. The king withholds knighting him until he has won a battle, but that feat is efficiently accomplished. This production gave solemnity and high ceremony to the awarding and dressing of Edward in his armor at the conclusion of 3.3, a useful decision, since Edward may be known as "the black Prince," but there is little else in the play that suggests he got the name from his black armor.

    E3 Black Prince

    Fig. 4: Prince Edward (Matt Felten) and King Edward III (Drew Reeves). Photo: Jeff Watkins

  12. Most riveting in a series of battle schemes is the dramatic exposition depicting the action when the sky is darkened by ravens. This causes the French to cower and the outnumbered English to persevere. Even though he is without enough arrows for ammunition,  Prince Edward vows to make use of "the ground itself," that it is "armed with fire-containing flint; command our bows / To hurl away their pretty-coloured yew, / And to it with stones." (4.6.13-16). One versed in the traditional canon discovers that the themes in the latter part of the play form an important bridge between the father-son themes of the Henry VI plays and the mature and multi-layered conflict between Prince Hal and Henry IV. Based on Holinshed and William Painter, the text is ragged and presents no obvious connection to other history plays; however, director Andrew Houchins, in his program notes, asserts that the chronicle-derived action does contain a strong theme threaded through the incidents that make up the play: repeatedly "a person form one high station in life (a King, a father, a Prince) is taught by a person from a lower station (a son, a commoner, a prisoner) what it is to be noble and honorable in a time of war." Add to this the Countess of Salisbury's dramatic lesson to the love-smitten King Edward and his Queen's last act plea for the lives of the French citizens, and one has the play in a nutshell.

  13. The preliminary sequence of action that is derived from Painter's Palace of Pleasure deals with Edward's sudden fiery passion for the Countess of Salisbury. He has driven the Scottish King David away without a fight, but his hot desire comes out of nowhere (and is echoed elsewhere in Shakespeare by Angelo in Measure for Measure).  The first articulation of his desire is resonant of other lovers sick for a lady in early comedies. When Edward attempts to dictate a love letter to her, the scribe to whom he sighs, Lodwick, over-comically played by Stuart Daniel, reminds us of the Nurse's insinuations about Romeo (or Celia's jolly cynicism at Rosalind's predicament). Yet the richness of the love imagery and contortedness of the situation seems to derive from the sonnets. (Edward employs the Countess's father, Warwick, to demand his daughter break her marriage vows. Warwick agrees with his daughter's willingness to die rather than submit, condemning the king with a whole line directly echoing sonnet 94: "Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds" (2.1.451).  But the Countess's own, bold, coup de théâtre, comes when she seems to have no other recourse: King Edward insinuates that their love is one that necessitates the death of both their spouses, so, in this production, Mary Russell as the Countess dramatically drew from a concealed holster two huge daggers, one from each hip, proclaiming them to be her "wedding knives: / Take thou the one, and with it kill thy queen, / ... And with this other I'll dispatch my love" (2.2.172-3, 174).  She then forces the king to give up his folly by threatening to stab herself.  The sudden resolution of the King's dilemma--complete acceptance of her moral rejection of his effrontery--is as much an awkward twist as the manner in which Shakespeare's resolution is different from his source in the Palace of Pleasure. Yet this production handled the sudden lesson for the King in a convincing way: he immediately called all forward to witness his shame and conversion, and  the earnestness of Drew Reeves' acceptance of his transgression conveyed powerfully his ability to own up to his faults.

    E3 Countess

    Fig. 5: King Edward III. Drew Reeves as the title character and Mary Russell as Countess of Salisbury. Photo: Jeff Watkins    

  14.  Any production of even a less familiar play can reveal missed opportunities. The elder knight Audley, played effectively by John Curran and serving as Prince Edward's mentor throughout, movingly asks to be taken to the king when he has been wounded and is close to death. Though Audley is present in the final tableau, Shakespeare has not scripted any reunion and this production underplayed his presence. The six citizens of Calais that appeal to Edward's mercy were reduced to two. However, other opportunities were not missed: Queen Philippe's fifth act presence is yet another surprise in the structure of the play, for no mention of her precedes her arrival. Yet Josie Burgin Lawson gave her an effective role in persuading her king Edward to have mercy on the citizens. She later emoted persuasively in anticipating her son's defeat and then celebrating his victory.

  15. On the whole this production was a solid success. Drew Reeves acquitted himself  admirably as Edward, after a weak performance as Pirithous in Kinsmen. Matt Felten as Prince Edward bore a filial resemblance to Reeves and took on the challenges assigned him with powerful assertions that made the play function as a celebration of England's glory.

    E3 ending

    Fig. 6: Final tableau, King Edward III. The French princes and King John kneeling; King Edward, Queen and Prince Edward front right. Photo: Jeff Watkins

     Double Falsehood

  16. That the Tavern achieved its original goal of completing the 39 play canon and then elected to stage the contested play Double Falsehood as a coda, is a testament to their superlative company style and rich ensemble of performers and directors.

  17. The director and ensemble took the approach of letting the play as originally published speak for itself. This is in contrast to Shakespeare scholars Stephen Greenblatt and Gary Taylor, who have each experimented with expanded texts that set the play which Lewis Theobald claimed in the 1720s was the lost Shakespeare and Fletcher's Cardenio within a constructed wider context. These adaptations resort to creating something of a frame around the action of the text, either a modern scenario about experiments in rehearsing the apocryphal play, or an attempt to re-situate the action within the wider narrative of Don Quixote. Names in these expanded adaptations revert to those in Cervantes, presumably because a brief record ties Shakespeare and Fletcher to a listing for the promptbook "The History of Cardenio" in 1653 and because the scholars assume they are being true to Shakespeare in giving the play more of a framing action or subplot (Hammond 78-85, 124-31). The Tavern production, by contrast, simplified the action, sometimes engaged in doubling, and embraced both the Spanish setting of the play and Theobald's invented names. Thus, this Tavern presentation ignores the Don Quixote connection or any mention of the Cervantes version of the character Cardenio, here and in Theobald rechristened Julio). It follows Theobald’s plot, in which the prodigal son Henriquez takes advantage of getting his good friend Julio called to court so he can make arrangements to court Julio's lover, Leonora. Meanwhile he takes advantage physically of the commoner Violante. Henriquez's older brother Roderick manages to sort out the complications --which includes Violante disguised as a shepherd and Leonora retreating within a convent--and bring the offending brother to true repentance.

     DF Henriquez Maid

    Fig. 7: Jonathan Horne as Henriquez in Double Falsehood. Photo: Jeff Watkins

  18. The production emphasized artifice. Jonathan Horne played Henriquez with the flare of a Faustian Zorro, dressed in a redlined cape and making love to his long stemmed red rose when he had no woman handy. The performers of the distressed females, along with others in the cast, sometimes played their speeches meant for each other in a false pose, half-turned to the audience, thus heightening the artificial conventions of the eighteenth century theatre. Less successful for the production's style were certain decisions in doubling. Most of these choices allowed for servants and lesser roles to be efficiently dispatched, and the shepherd atmosphere of the second half of the production was filled out nicely with effective doubling. However, Duke Angelo (Daniel Parvis) doubled as Master of the Flocks. This character emerges out of the strange tonality of the pastoral and detects the real sex of the disguised shepherd and proceeds to accost the "lad" in disguise, Violante, before being quickly interrupted. Even though Parvis was well enough altered for his second role, the mirroring in the Master of the Flocks of the father whose son has also "violated" Violante made me wonder the doubling was partly intended to underscore the cliché, "Like father, like son." Yet, to his credit, the director dealt with rather than excised the difficulty of this part of the text. The surprise sexual advances were appropriately exaggerated so that we still knew we were in the comic world of the play's madcap misadventures.

  19. One of the cleverest aspects of this production was that everyone who pronounced the Spanish “Julio” over-pronounced the "h" of the first consonant sound, adding a hard "c" to form "(K)hoooolio," forming a highly entertaining running gag.  Whether lover, enemy, father, or the character referring to himself in the third person, all over-enunciated "Julio" to show a rich range of emotions. But the production made it clear, in Nicholas Faircloth's characterization of the lovable bloke who is taken advantage of, that he truly deserved to recover his lady. (Let no production attempt to rechristen this character Cardenio again!) 
    DF Julio Leonora

    Fig. 8: Nicholas Faircloth as Julio and Kelly Criss as Leonora, also doubling as Shepherd. Photo: Jeff Watkins
  20. One sight gag also added clarity to the frantic plot. When the action moved to the rural setting for the latter half (acts 4 and 5, after the intermission), we "saw" Roderick give Henriquez the idea for infiltrating the convent where Leonora has taken refuge. The brothers did not simply arrive at the idea independently, as the text suggests ("To feign a corpse ... We must pretend we do transport a body / As 'twere to's funeral ... a vacant hearse pass'd by / This for a price we'll hire, to put our scheme into act"  [4.2.234-243]) Instead, they actually witnessed a dead body being carried into the convent on a bier, and the lines they exchanged were supercharged with comic emphasis. Equally entertaining for those discovering the play as a new experience were minor roles, especially those of the fathers of the principals. The production permitted Don Bernado all the range of a typical Shakespearean father, misguided in his first instincts and so insisting on his daughter Leonora's marriage to Henriquez, but corrected of his disabuse by the end. Especially prominent in the myopic father category was the acting of  Clarke Weigle as Julio's father Camillo, who was comically crotchety, but --when he discovered his son to have been restored-- effusively gracious.

    DF Fathers

    Fig. 9: Three fathers of Double Falsehood:
    Don Bernard (Jacob York), Duke Angelo (Daniel Parvis), Camillo (Clarke Weigle). Photo: Jeff Watkins

  21. Although the "camp" of the production style and the wild twists and turns of the plot assured the audience that the performers were in command of their material, it would be difficult for any viewer with some experience of the full canon to experience this production and believe the text had origins in Shakespeare.  As such, it contrasts with the unsophisticated popular references to Double Falsehood as a new Shakespeare play that have emerged in the wake of the play’s increasing fame. One troubling development in authorship attribution, one addressed by Artistic Director Jeff Watkins in his welcome speech to this production, is that applications on portable electronic devices such as the iPhone and Nook are presenting Double Falsehood as if it is Shakespeare, with no front matter, nor any explanation of the curious history of its emergence as a highly contested lost text, long after previous generations had considered and rejected its status.

    DF father fight

    Fig. 10: Climactic action: Double Falsehood. Photo: Jeff Watkins


  22. A word on the performance style and atmosphere of the Shakespeare Tavern: A simplified dinner menu, with choices served while going through a cafeteria line, puts this company into the category of “dinner theatre.” However, the discipline of performance venue, the company's commitment to an "original practices" performance style, and the dedicated volunteer servers keep the emphasis on the show. This reviewer saw one production two decades ago and recognized its simple yet straightforward approach to performing Shakespeare had important merits. But it was a true delight to rediscover the company in its vibrant strength in an age when many Shakespeare festivals and companies sprinkle their offerings with so much that is not Shakespeare that it becomes hard to justify their retention of the name. The company is also to be commended for offering Shakespeare to school audiences. (The same 2010-2011season that completed the canon with the challenges of Henry VIII, Timon, Kinsmen, Edward III was also offering Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, primarily as school matinees.) At the time of writing, the Tavern's next season comes with the announcement that the company will repeat their feat of performing the entire canon, this time genre by genre, in rough chronological order, with the early comedies announced as the first performed.  Given the strength of shows in the obscured and marginalized works of the canon, the Tavern makes a superlative destination vacation for those who crave the real thing--and have the discernment to appreciate the difference. 

Works Consulted

Note: act, scene and line references to The Two Noble Kinsmen and Edward III conform to Blakemore and Tobin; those to Double Falsehood conform to Hammond. 

[1] Arden has yet to include Edward III in their series. Incidentally, the iPhone app lists 41 plays, also counting Sir Thomas More.

[2] Lois Potter, editor of the Arden edition of Kinsmen suggests this derives from Ovid's Ariadne of Heroides and that Shakespeare's version of it has been previously referenced in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (48).


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© 2012-, Annaliese Connolly and Matthew Steggle (Editors, EMLS).