Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Clever

About the show

Tannis Kowalchuk embodies the Bard's wife, Anne Hathaway, in this wry, moving, solo musical tribute.

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Performed with dynamic theatricality and live music, NACL's production of Vern Thiessen's epic monologue delves into a complex female experience of 16th century life while drawing contemporary parallels to modern love, children, work, and loss.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Lighting & Sound America

"What is lamentable is the lack of conflict. Most of the time, 'Shakespeare's Will' is a quasi-poetic account of a woman running her household while her absent spouse courts fame and fortune. With its relentless focus on the quotidian and Anne's penchant for bursting into bits of song, it seems determined to position her as a kind of Elizabethan Emily Dickinson, but without the poetry...It's hard not to feel that 'Shakespeare's Will' focuses on the duller half of this storied marriage." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Vern Thiessen certainly takes liberties in his play 'Shakespeare’s Will'...Kowalchuk shows her considerable range as an actor, and commands our attention from beginning to end...Yet for all of Kowalchuk’s skill, very little can be done to mask the script’s inherit shortcomings...Even the reasoning as to why Hathaway puts off reading the will is shaky at best...Kowalchuk’s performance is notable, but not even her best moments can fix a play that falls so frustratingly flat." Full Review


"Where Thiessen errs is in blending a feminist portrait of Hathaway with the hard-boiled historical facts known about her and her celebrated husband. At times it gives you the feeling that you are watching two plays concurrently...What emerges is a solo show that gives you a modern, and generous-minded, perspective on Anne Hathaway...'Shakespeare's Will' isn't altogether a persuasive portrait of Hathaway. But it does give a voice to the Bard's often forgotten wife." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Vibrant solo piece, performed with flair, sensitivity, and heart by Tannis Kowalchuk. She presents the traditionally ambiguous character of Anne Hathaway as a strong woman brimming with passion, intelligence, and mirth...Kowalchuk comes across as amiable and entertaining...She's empathetic and human...She's winning...'Shakespeare's Will' is imaginative, tender, and rather mesmerizing." Full Review


"Performing a one-person show is a mighty feat, and Tannis Kowalchuk is more than up to the challenge. She somehow manages to sing and speak her way through the show with no signs of slowing down, even with the considerable amount of passion she brings. Instead of Anne being portrayed as the perfect lady with no emotion, we see Anne stating her own opinions, just as any strong woman would do." Full Review


"Thiessen throws many of the documented facts about Hathaway out the window, apparently in service to using Anne as a springboard. For what? Unfortunately, for his own exploration of the journey of a woman who faces adversity, rises above it, and rekindles a zest for life in herself. Oh, yawn…The inconsistencies, the flavorless quality of the performance, the basic premise, the odd musical accompaniment: all add up to a New Age-y feminist statement that just doesn’t work." Full Review

New York Theatre Wire

"Kowalchuk presents 'her' Anne as an independent full-bodied sensual woman...While the ear at times is jarred with some anachronisms, her performance slides over these with her delightful sense of ironic humor....I wish McGurl’s choreographic direction would trust audience attention more by giving Anne some longer moments of repose where the text warrants. The performance presents an enjoyable thought experiment about the life of the underexposed companion to Shakespeare." Full Review

New York Theatre Review

"As played by NACL performer, the charming Tannis Kowalchuk, Anne is a warm and loving presence...Over the course of the hour Kowalchuk fully immerses herself into the contradiction that is Anne Hathaway...Under the watchful direction of Mimi McGurl, and accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Rima Fand, Kowalchuk uses all sorts of movement, song, and poetic language to play the multiple characters who inhabit this tale." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

"Worth a see. It is a quick, sprightly swim into the meaning of marriage, the oppressive nature of this institution, and the insurmountable pressure women are placed in to be superhuman mothers making up for absentee fathers. As Kowalchuk’s Hathaway cries, dreams, screams, and loves, you want to protect the soul of a woman you never met, but feel you know through the hearts of every modern woman balancing her ambitions versus stigmas that she should solely cater to wants of men." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Flat, Disappointing, Excruciating, Thin, Oddly amateurish

See it if You’re up for a perky, mostly house-bound Mrs Shakespeare clumsily transitioning into other equally unconvincing characters and voices.

Don't see it if You expect to learn much about Anne Hathaway or dislike sitting through almost embarrassing self-indulgent solos, however well-meaning.

Also There’s a remarkable distance between the credits & awards given all i... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Intriguing, Historical fiction, Musings on possible whys

See it if What if this happened with Anne Hathaway & Will, & that pesky Will that Will wrote intrigue you as possibilities for a one woman play +music

Don't see it if not interested in Shakespeare possibiliana, one person shows, Anne Hathaway, listening, imagining or appreciating

Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if To know some fact about William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway. Good acting ,lighting and direction. 65 minutes no intermission.

Don't see it if If you don't like a historical play with some singing and music. Has a little feminist tone to it.

Dated, Rushed, Not quite up to its potential

See it if you like discovering 13 year old plays and thinking about why they were written then

Don't see it if you’re tired of domestic complaints; plays revived too early or without enough reworking to have the same impact today

Also The subject itself has potential to resonate but wasn’t quite effectiv... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Quirky, Historical, Simplistic, Lyrical

See it if Solo actress + musician enliven a fictional history. Peasant life, non-traditional marriage, plague, and sexism in 1580. Touching music.

Don't see it if Held my interest but a bit mundane. Not as compelling as some of the real autobios I’ve attended. Wife a saint, Shakespeare an a-hole.

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Charming, Repetitious

See it if a charming, well researched one woman show appeals to you. The use of music is particularly nice.

Don't see it if heavy handed irony created by repetition annoys you.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You are a fan of Shakespeare and are interested in his life with his family and wife. You enjoy a show with a historical background.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of one person shows. Although I am not usually a fan of monologues I thoroughly enjoyed this one !

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Tannis Kowalchuk is excellent as Anne Hathaway. Although historical fiction it is interesting to get a peek at her life.

Don't see it if Do not go if you do not enjoy solo shows or do not have any interest in Shakespeare’s life.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you would like a feminist, alternative take on the life of Shakespeare's wife. Clever and engaging.

Don't see it if you want total authenticity or want a naturalistic performance. This is very stylized.

Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy Shakespeare and are curious about his life!

Don't see it if do not enjoy a one person show.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are interested in Shakespearean history and seeing an attempt fleshing out the puzzle that is Anne Hathaway.

Don't see it if You are a strict historian (I don't know where they get the evidence that his son died of drowning.)

Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You enjoy engaging one-women shows that entertain and enlighten.

Don't see it if If you don't enjoy one-person's show or have no interest in the life of William Shakespeare and his family.

Great acting, Disappointing, Great staging, Fake history, Lots of errors

See it if you like solo shows (with music & quirky staging) that pretend to be based on an Elizabethan Era writer. [See "more to say" section.]

Don't see it if you're a person who values history, facts, accuracy -- or if you know a lot about Shakespeare & find biographical errors very annoying

Also Anne Hathaway [1556-1623] became pregnant, which led to marrying Shake... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if If you want to see a good story.

Don't see it if You don’t like Shakespeare.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Dated

See it if You like shakespeare and you want to know how this director interpret the life of his wife Anne

Don't see it if You don't like shakespeare and one person performance.

Raunchy, Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if You want to see a good actress and musician do their best with a difficult script and childrens theatre-style direction.

Don't see it if You already know about Shakespeare's life. This play blends poetic license into some facts.

During previews
Touching, moving one woman show with great musical accompaniment.

See it if You like raw staging and small, one woman, casts.

Don't see it if You are looking for a big Broadway musical.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you have an interest in the life of the wife of William Shakespeare.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in a slice of life one woman show.

During previews
Clever, Entertaining, Pleasant

See it if you're interested in WS enough to care about his personal life. I suspect much is pure speculation, but it was an hour well spent.

Don't see it if If one-person shows are not pleasing to you, or if you are already Shakespeared out.

During previews
Slow, Barebones production, Disappointing portrayal, Anachronisms/inaccuracies

See it if you love one-actor shows/like the premise of a focus on Hathaway. But where's English accent? Why the modern haircut? Was WS called "Bill"?

Don't see it if you want a polished, accurate piece. Lots of info is wrong or, at least, not established. No reference to WS's plays. Unenlightening.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great score, Comfortable

See it if you've ever wondered about the woman Shakespeare left behind in Stratford when he went to London to make history.

Don't see it if solo shows or history plays are not your thing, or you cringe at the idea of the standard version of the Bard’s life being tampered with.

Also I’m a confessed Shakespeare nut. So Vern Thiessen’s project in “Shakes... Read more Read less

During previews
Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if you like one person shows and like to dwell on historical figures we know very little about, & to think about what they might have been like

Don't see it if You need sets, or don't like musical pieces just added for the sake of music. Or if you are a historical purist.

During previews
Great acting, Minimal set, One hander, Live musical sound effects

See it if You’d like to hear a possible explanation why his wife is only briefly mentioned in Shakespeare’s will from what little we know about them.

Don't see it if You are a stickler for accuracy as it distorts facts and implies she was treated worse than the historical record.

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Indulgent

See it if you're interested to learn about Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, and what it must have been like being married to him.

Don't see it if you're not into solo shows or need high production values. Also, some of the writing is unnecessarily expository and feels indulgent.

During previews
Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky, Banal, Slow

See it if An interesting biographical sketch of the life of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare.

Don't see it if Basically just a monologue. Like a lot of one person shows, it lives & dies by the strength of the performer.

Cast & Creatives (8)