Shakespeare the Man from Stratford, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

Michael Coveney
Monday 16 August 2010 00:00

Simon Callow is a renowned actor, but not Shakespearean. His Orlando was bizarre, his Falstaff (twice) less than great, but he did let rip satisfactorily as Titus Andronicus.

His task here, in an unpretentious script by RSC governor and brilliant scholar Jonathan Bate, is to give us a taste of the Bard with a simple outline of his biography.

Callow bestrides the stage in a black velvet suit, making no eccentric claims on the "authorship" question. Shakespeare himself remains elusive, but clearly one of us.

Tom Cairns's production needs to ditch the ugly visuals and decide how it wants to end. The actor gorges on speeches of Juliet and Rosalind, and the poetry is linked to moods rather than events. Especially good is an irrepressible Bottom.

The show is part tribute, part lecture, part potted guide, part actor's testimony, and Callow joins Ian McKellen as a fully paid-up Bard bragger by appointment to the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

To 30 Aug (0131 623 3030)

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