REVIEW:  Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s ‘Book of Will’ is storytelling at its best

‘Good stories make for good lives.’

Just one of the many insightful musings that Lauren Gunderson injects into The Book of Will which is a rollicking, meaty and glorious tribute to Shakespeare and storytelling.  Get thee to The Book of Will

Lauren Elias and the cast of Hub Theatre Company of Greater Boston’s ‘The Book of Will’ Photo by Hub Theatre Company of Boston

Directed exquisitely by Bryn Boice, Hub Theatre Company of Boston continues Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will live and in person at The Boston Center for the Arts through Sunday, November 12.  The show is approximately two hours with one intermission and always, a pay what you can production.  Not a bad seat in the house.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

The show begins with a comedic flourish and keeps its energetic pacing throughout the production.  It is three years after Shakespeare’s death and a group of men gather and contemplate Shakespeare’s genius as well as the butchery and liberties that some theatres have taken since to depict his work over a pint at a tap house next to the famous Globe Theatre in London.  How to keep Shakespeare’s work alive the way it should be remembered?

Jessica Golden and the cast of Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s ‘The Book of Will’ Photo credit to Hub Theatre Company of Boston

The Book of Will offers commentary on many aspects of Shakespeare’s work and delivers some Shakespeare references and quotes passionately, but it is not necessary to be a Shakespeare fan to enjoy the humor and sheer love of the written word and theatre.   

The famous skull and brethren in Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s ‘The Book of Will’ Photo credit to Hub Theatre Company of Boston

The cast has crackling chemistry with commanding as well as shrewd comedic timing.  No one is afraid to go too far for a laugh or to capture meaningful moments.  Some of the performers take on dual roles which will not be revealed here.

Jessica Golden and Cleveland Nicoll are an adorable young couple while Laura Rocklyn and Brendan O’Neill are powerful and wise as they deal with challenging aspects of their long term marriage.  Rocklyn and O’Neill evoke a different form of endearing relationship.  Rocklyn, Nicoll, and O’Neill later share a powerful and beautiful sequence, especially demonstrated by O’Neill, as Nicoll and O’Neil contemplate the meaning of love and life.  Rocklyn is just one of many wise and wonderful female characters in this production.

Cleveland Nicoll’s shows off sharp comedic timing through his scene stealing expressions, eye rolls, stubbornness and outrage while Dev Lutra delivers a commanding and charismatic performance as Burbridge, the head of the King’s Men.   John Blair also offers a fascinating performance as Poet Laureate and Shakespeare’s ‘frenemy’ Ben Johnson.

Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s ‘The Book of Will’ set Photo by Hub Theatre Company of Boston

Payton Tavares’s straightforward set design features a timely wooden half moon stage, two tables and surrounding stools with barrels in the background and enhanced by rope.  Ellie De Lucia’s authentic Elizabethan era costumes feature gold trimmed vests and buttons, silky grand gowns, Venetian breeches, wingtip shoes, spectacles, corsets, peasant blouses with some rich colors and patterns.

What else is there to say but see this wonderful production that shall bring as much joy as it will stir the soul.

Directed exquisitely by Bryn Boice, Hub Theatre Company of Boston continues Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will live and in person at The Boston Center for the Arts through Sunday, November 12.  The show is approximately two hours with one intermission and always, a pay what you can production.  Not a bad seat in the house.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

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