Anne Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s wife tells us in the opening that he was like a rough, rocky shore compared to a smooth sea. The play often talks about the sea, a lot of Anne Hathaway’s being took place at the shore, after all they lived at Avon by the Sea. When we first meet Hathaway, Tannis Kowalchuck, it is Shakespeare’s funeral, he was 52 years old . Joan, Shakespeare’s sister, hands Anne his will and implores her to read it. This is the crux of the play, but we learn so much more about the man, and the women throughout the next 60 minutes. We next learn how they met, at a fair where they have an immediate romantic interlude where he is naive on this matter and she is not. She is 26, he is 18. Upon her pregnancy, her care free days are over and much to the dismay of her father, she wants to marry him. The father’s disapproval of him being a Catholic, son of a glove maker and a writer/actor. Regardless, they get married three days later and have a daughter, Susanna, followed by twins, Judith and Hamlet.
As a young couple, Shakespeare teaches, begins writing plays and finally takes a job acting which pays 10 shillings a week. The couple agrees to give it six months, but that turned into a year, year and a half, the two, and so it goes. As the years go on, Anne is raising the children, working and missing her husband, although she has had many affairs upon his absence and Kowalchuk alludes the the rumors about his male companion. She makes the best out of her loneliness, however and does the best she can raising there three children.
Over the course of the 65 minutes we feel her loneliness, her fears such as the plague that took many people when she was a child and the hatred for her sister-in- law Joan. William at this point hardly comes home anymore, she does have the life of luxury at this point with two gardeners and a very nice house by the sea. It is not enough for her however, she wants to move to the city and be with him, he does not want the children to grow up there and gives her many reasons not too.
Tannis Kowalchuck lays out this story well, very simply and keeps us interested in there lives, the lives of there children. We see the pain she lives through during her life, how she sacrificed so much. Writer Vern Thiessen writes a very thoughtful, meaningful play which has some nice songs in it put forth by both Kowalchuck and musician Rima Fand, who plays six instruments just off the stage during the performance.
Mimi Mc Gurl directs this play and does a very nice job in keeping Kowalchuk simple, elegant and pain ridden. We see Hathaway lose her son to the water, how she paid for that all through the rest of her life, how “the Bard” reacted to his death by writing his will and whom he left what possessions too.
In it’s 25th year, the HERE theater put on a very good show. It was supposed to have under lying feminist messages in it, I did not find that forced feed to the audience, as we saw a strong women who had a lot to deal with but complained little.