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4.61  ·  Rating details ·  112 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The official script for the 2009 world premier production at the Angus Bowmer Theater.

King James commissions Shakespeare to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot.
Spiral-bound, 81 pages
Published 2009 by Oregon Shakespeare Festival
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Community Reviews

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Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
We saw this incredible play at its world premier at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland this summer, then saw it two more times (with the same cast & production) during its recent run at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Cain's drama overflows with intrigue and politics, while exploring the meaning of friends, family and faith in the tumultuous period following the Gunpowder Plot, set in the imagined theatrical life of Shagspeare's company at The Globe. You will not see (or read) a more thou ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
This is an amazing example of historiographic metatheatre--a type of postmodern, self-aware theatre that understands and presents the construction of histories as a self-aware narrative act. Here we have Robert Cecil commissioning a play from William Shagspeare (one of the perhaps dozen different spellings of his name that Shakespeare used or that were printed during his lifetime) to tell the official version of the Gunpowder Plot, but Shag finds it impossible to tell the official version, and h ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love love love this play! So smart and funny and witty!
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
I like it a lot, but overall I think it reads a bit like an under-edited draft. It doesn't seem to have been properly workshopped. Some scenes drag on far longer than they need to. There are moments of attempted comic relief where the serious tone of the scene absolutely does not call to be interrupted. Certain ideas simply don't work but are beaten into the ground while other interesting ones are left by the wayside.

The play also occasionally suffers from its own attempts to be lofty (read: a l
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the script for a play that was premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this spring. I saw the play in September and picked up a copy of the script from the Guild shop. I wanted to read it because there is so much to think about in the play. The OSF production is wonderful and I am glad I saw it before attempting the script because reading the script could be confusing if I didn't have the characters firmly in mind. The play has six characters, four play multiple parts and having see ...more
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant play. I saw it in Ashland, Oregon, in the summer of 2010, I believe. It revolved around the Gunpowder Plot in England--Guy Fawkes's attempt to blow of Parliament, if I am remembering correctly. In advance of reading the play and attending the performance, I read Antonia Fraser's "Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot," Anchor Books, 1996. POWERFUL exploration of conscience, responsibility, choices, and conflicting moral obligations (the very stuff of life).
Andrea Lakly
Mar 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a very fun, if totally improbable, play about the art of juxtaposition -- the seeming driving concern of most of Shakespeare's creative and personal life. It also mixes in the Gunpowder plot and Shakespeare's daughter Judith. I don't know if it all works out, but it's a fun ride. A really good onstage performance could easily make it four stars! (I don't have much vision and am kinda bad a reading plays . . .)
G. Derek Adams
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really fucking good play. Technically demanding -- acting and effects. The worst kind of technique, where a lot of craft is required to make it look effortless and easy. Characters play multiple roles, switching parts through pure acumen. Fascinating intellectually and emotionally. A nodding familiarity with Shakespeare's plays recommended, but not required.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I bought this script when I had a chance to view the show at Arena Stage last year. Going through the story again, it's still just as fun. Cain's story swerves and jumps with dexterity, and shifts the ending several times along the way. It's a fun play with emotional and intellectual depth, while still presenting the occasional Easter egg for Shakespeare-philes.
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a play commisioned specifically for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I was lucky enough to see it (beautifully) performed alongside its intended companion Macbeth. It contains a lot of history about the Gunpowder Plot and some details about William Shakespeare the man. Wonderfully written - great for Shakespeare lovers!
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, plays, reviewed
What an incredible play! I saw the original production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2009, and purchased the script at that time. That production has stayed with me and I count it as one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever experienced. I only read the play for the first time now and the writing is so good.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The contents of this play are eerily timely during out current political season. The contrast between the theatricality of art and politics. Does it do more harm than good? Or vice versa? Beautifully written piece of theatre... I wish I had seen this when it played nearby two years ago.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Saw this with the original cast at Seattle Repertory. Beautiful! Clever! At moments difficult to follow with actors playing so many different roles, but the depth and wit of the script are exceptional.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
The dedication was beautiful and heartfelt. There were moments throughout that felt sincere and similarly inspired, however, overall the play felt like it was trying too hard to be important. I missed a sense of honesty, which was alluded to here and there throughout the work.
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I started laughing on page one, continued through two viewings, and haven't stopped yet. An exploration of the Powder Plot (Guy Fawkes), Hamlet, Macbeth, and martyrdom, there's a lot packed into a short space.
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing play about the writing of Macbeth and how it relates to the Gunpowder Plot. It's even more amazing live on stage!
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, 2011
Loved it when I saw the play performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2009, loved it again reading it. There is a great deal in these 80 pages, and I will be rereading it in the future.
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I definitely am anxious to see this staged by Virginia Rep. I think I'll have a better understanding of my feelings about the play then.

But I did love the plot. I struggled to put it down.
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Jeremy Reed
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Bill Cain is an American playwright noted for an impish humor. He is the founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company, where he was Artistic Director for seven seasons, directing most of the Shakespeare canon. He is a Jesuit pries with teaching experience in New York's Lower East Side.
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