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  Being Shakespeare at Broadway Playhouse

Being Shakespeare

Broadway Playhouse
175 East Chestnut Street Chicago

Celebrated British star of stage and screen Simon Callow returns to Chicago with a tour de force solo performance that took the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by storm and played to great acclaim throughout its UK tour and West End engagement. Callow weaves together excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays and poems, breathing new life into his unforgettable characters and the real man behind the legend. Presented as part of CST’s World’s Stage, this unique portrait of the Bard follows Callow’s major international success The Mystery of Charles Dickens (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Broadway and London’s West End) in addition to memorable film roles including Shakespeare in Love, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and A Room with a View. London’s Guardian raved, “we’ve had some fine one-man shows about Shakespeare from John Gielgud, Ian McKellen and Michael Pennington. But Simon Callow’s is among the very best... a memorably multidimensional picture of Shakespeare, steeped in scholarship and love.”

Presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Thru - Apr 29, 2012



Price: $45-$75

Show Type: Drama

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  Being Shakespeare Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...There's no doubt that many in Callow's audience, which responded very warmly Wednesday night, appreciated the neat digestibility of "Being Shakespeare," which is directed by Tom Cairns. But I found the show lacking in revelation about this most interesting artist — and I mean Callow, not Shakespeare. Callow, still known for the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral" but now 62 years old, is entering a different phase of his life and career and, unlike many of his peers, his acting is never smug or overconfident but invariably emotional, even needy in all the right ways. There are flashes toward the end of this show when Callow leaves his articulate comfort zone and the conventionality of Bate's writing and shows you himself inside Shakespeare, which is always the most interesting way of being Shakespeare in front of an audience."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Directed by Tom Cairns, “Being Shakespeare” has an almost Asian-minimalist set highlighted by an illuminated globe, bare walls ideal for casting shadows and, in the first act, lush green trees suggesting the Forest of Arden, followed by the “bare ruined choirs” of leafless trees in the second."
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Hedy Weiss


Centerstage - Recommended

"... Callow, on the other hand, needs no justification. The man has a voice that could make tyrants weep and speaks verse like it was written just for him. He also displays an uncanny range, from young child to wizened King to love-struck maid to scheming fool. Even if he sometimes, seemed a bit iffy on his lines, Callow exudes such comfort and dexterity that he single-handedly makes the evening a must see. Lastly, for any out there who were unfortunate enough to catch Roland Emmerich’s Anti-Stratfordian schlock-fest “Anonymous,” this show will serve as the perfect antidote. In argument against an ornate, overblown conspiracy thriller, it presents a single man, a single life, and a thousand glittering words. Take a wild guess, which one comes out on top?"

Alex Huntsberger


Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...For a man so often credited by academics with possessing the preeminent artistic insight into the human condition, Shakespeare’s biographical details are spotty. Vast spans of time—some in which huge creative breakthroughs likely occurred—are almost completely unaccounted for. With that in mind, Bate interweaves dramaturgical study, Shakespeare’s own text and an admitted healthy dose of speculation to fill in the gaps. Transitioning from the devious, line-borrowing “upstart crow” of his early years to a resigned elder Prospero, Callow serves as a guide and one-man master class. Which, without much at stake, is what the reverent Being Shakespeare ultimately is: a fascinating lecture. At the end of the night, Shakespeare remains his own most enigmatic legend."
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Dan Jakes


Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Callow, like the great actor and master of Shakespeare’s global populace that he is, melds before our eyes into Bottom’s essence, an endearing rustic, earnest, good-hearted, keen to please. You might say, in those fleeting minutes, Callow has become Bottom. But he would quickly correct you."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Part of a short U.S. tour, Being Shakespeare lends credence to the theory that no one but Shakespeare could have written Shakespeare. As scholars debate whether or not the Shakespearean canon was written by one man, this compelling lecture, cleverly written as a play, should make any theatergoer a Shakespeare supporter. Although it’s a scholarly event, a spectator should attend Being Shakespeare as enthusiastically as a schoolboy leaving his books."
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Tony Frankel


ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Less successful is what happens between these speeches when Callow, in quiet, informal chat mode, fills in the background and history supplied by historian/author John Bates. The problem is neither with the history nor the resulting monologues, but with their delivery. Perhaps the theater is just too large and cavernous a hall. Perhaps Callow was tired on opening night, after his afternoon dress rehearsal. Whatever the reason, it was quite difficult to hear and understand his lines. Pertinent, often wry and humorous, comments are lost when he drops his tone or seems to mumble. This is certainly unfortunate as what we could hear was interesting and revelatory. Miking him would solve the problem. During intermission, this reviewer sought hearing aids from the theater box office, but lest readers think this was a limited, personal failing, others in the audience also complained about not being able to hear and follow the story."
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Beverly Friend


Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"... Never has a title spoken truer. As a superb actor should and will, Simon Callow presents, develops and confirms his subject from the inside out. In this very special case that creation is himself a character who created marvelous others in 37 plays, from Stratford to London and back, before he died at 52. If all of humanity were to suddenly succumb to an overachieving asteroid, our entire makeup (down to the DNA) could be reconstructed from William Shakespeare’s tragedies, histories, and comedies."

Lawrence Bommer


Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...Simon Callow is an A+ class act! Callow is THE one… the one to teach you a thing or ten about William Shakespeare. BEING SHAKESPEARE is only in Chicago for a limited engagement. Sign up for this literary immersion for an as-you-love-it experience!"
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"... In this stunning production, we, the audience, see the love Callow has for these works as he explores the life of this man woven with his own words along with those written by Bate.Many of us know his characters;Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet,King Lear and many more, but have little background as to where they came from and why the stories were even put to paper, let alone, placed on stages. These are some of the things that we learn from this production and Callow’s heartfelt way of bringing these facts to our attention is in itself special. This is Shakespeare being brought to us by a great admirer seeped with scholarship, love and humanity. This is not a production that will appeal to everyone, but those who are enamored with “The Bard” should find a way to get to see this one."
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Alan Bresloff



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