Brian d'Arcy James, Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, musical, Something Rotten!, William Shakespeare
I trust that, if I confess that I sort of collect plays about Shakespeare and Marlowe, nobody will die of shock. I even have a Pinterest board to show for it, gathering both things I have seen or read, and things I haven’t yet – but a girl can hope.*
One good thing about collecting plays about Shakespeare and Marlowe is, there always seems to be more: both Kit and Will being endlessly fascinating subjects to playwrights, the happy collector can go ahead and be reasonably certain to find something more, and more, and more…
My last find is a musical. I’m not surprised at all that there is a musical: I’m developing a staunch faith in the fact that in the English-speaking world there is at least one musical about any and everything… So it was no shock to find out about Something Rotten!, Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell’s musical comedy about Elizabethan – and not so Elizabethan – theatre.
And for once, Shakespeare is the antagonist, too – a delightfully funny, self-centred, gloating antagonist. But what about our heroes? Well, it goes like that: once welcomed to the Renaissance,** we are introduced to Nick and Nigel Bottom (Brian D’Arcy James and John Cariani), two playwright brothers trying to make their way in London playhouses. Except, you see, it’s 1595, and there isn’t much breathing space left, because cursed Will Shakespeare (Christian Borle) is all the rage, and nobody has time for anyone else… Little wonder, is it that Nick Bottom hates Shakespeare – but perhaps he doesn’t take into account how hard it is to be the Bard…
Will Nick and Nigel manage to write a hit play, make sense of Nostradamus’ fortune-telling, win their girls’ hearts, generally survive Shakespeare and write the first musical ever? Yes, of course – this is a comedy, after all – but how they get there is a lot of fun in great music.
* By the way – does anyone happen to know how I could find and read Mike Punter’s Upstart Crows?
** I feel I shouldn’t say this – but please, follow the links to hear the songs…