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No holds Bard: Lost play a ‘greatest hits of Shakespeare’

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It’s a new show from a 452-year-old writer.

The little-known play “Double Falsehood” — possibly written by Shakespeare — will make its Brooklyn debut at the Irondale Center on March 5. The pastoral play, about the schemes of a villainous Spanish noble, has everything a lover of the Bard wants in a play, the director said.

“There’s four young lovers and involved fathers, there’s a sword fight, they go to the mountains, girls dress up as boys, people go crazy, there’s talk of marriage — it almost feels like a greatest hits of Shakespeare,” said Andrew Borthwick-Leslie.

If the Bard of Avon did in fact write “Double Falsehood” — which recent linguistic analysis suggests is true — the play is a literary and theatrical all-star collaboration. Eighteenth century editor Lewis Theobold produced the play, claiming it was a collaboration between William Shakespeare and playwright John Fletcher, based on a story in Miguel de Cervantes’ classic “Don Quixote.”

The story is driven by a rich, spoiled young man named Henriquez, who uses his position to take advantage of women — including the girl his friend Julio is in love with — along with assorted other crimes.

Borthwick-Leslie called it the work of an older and wiser Shakespeare, weathered by loss. It revisits many themes of his earlier plays, but is darker and more sophisticated. And though the source material is more than 400 years old, its treatment of rape culture, identity, and redemption are deeply relevant to today’s audiences‚ says the director.

“The play is unapologetic about how men treat women and about men who don’t think of themselves as villains,” he said. “The speeches by the women feel very proto-feminist and the play as a whole speaks to how class and gender relate to each other.”The Letter of Marque Theater Company will perform the script exactly as written — whoever did write it — but it is not a straight-and-narrow period piece. Older characters, like Henriquez’s father the Duke, are dressed in period garb, but the younger characters wear modern sneakers and hoodies. The music is a similar mash-up of period and modern pieces, all of it performed live by the actors.The company will also host a series of “Full Frontal Panel Discussions” before three of the Saturday performances, speaking with experts on Shakespeare themes, and using the play’s themes to address equality for women, and men’s roles in creating a more safe culture for women.

“Double Falsehood” at the Irondale Center [85 S. Oxford St. between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street in Fort Greene, www.lomtheatre.org, (718) 246–2211]. March 5–April 9 at 7:30 pm, April 14 at noon. $20 (free with online reservation, $50 VIP).

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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