THE MAN WHO WAS HAMLET
George Dillon at the Cramphorn
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, favourite of the Virgin Queen, resident of Hedingham castle. And author of the plays and poems usually attributed to Shakespeare.
Or so many of his fans, following the eminent John Thomas Looney, would have us believe.
In this fascinating one man show, George Dillon has de Vere come back from the dead to tell his history, pointing up the parallels with the Prince of Denmark, but without explicitly making any claims.
The audience are to “sit in judgement”, it seems, as Edward, like Faustus with “one bare hour to live”, travels in his “mind's eye” from Castle Hedingham to Cecil House, from Venice to Verona to Illyria. He paraphrases Hamlet, colourfully insults Sir Philip Sidney on the tennis court, and twice meets the Stratford simpleton who is fit only to hold his horses.
We meet Lord Burghley, Arthur Golding, the pope in Rome, George the clown, as well as the Virgin Queen and the 16th Earl, his father, whose death unhinged the boy.
A clever conceit, compellingly delivered, with Dillon's clear diction encompassing bleeding chunks of the canon, cod Shakespeare and modern asides. The anachronisms were effective - I was less happy about the solecisms - maybe a script editor ? The piece was directed by Denise Evans, with music by Charlotte Glasson.
It may not make Oxfordians of us all, but we may well wonder, with Bernardo, “Is not this something more than fantasy !”.
“O God! What a wounded name, Things standing thus unknown, I leave behind me! In this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story!”
Hamlet / Edward de Vere