Shakespeare’s will is notorious for the bequest of the second-best bed to his wife, Anne Hathaway. The actual document is quite short, as most of the will is about the entailment of his property to his sister and her family.
How did Anne Hathaway feel about that? No-one knows, but this play is an imaginary take on what may have been. It would be fair to say that she’s not best pleased.
Shakespeare’s Will was written by Vern Thiessen in 2005. It is a one-woman play with Anne Hathaway in the lead role, set on the day of her husband’s funeral. She is handed the will, to her surprise. What follows is a speculative rumination on her life with William Shakespeare, culminating with the reading of the will, and her reaction to it.
The performance was a play reading, rather than an actual acting of the play, which was a little bit odd. I can understand why you might do a reading if there was more than one personae in the dramatis, but in this case, it was essentially a monologue. It’s not even a dress rehearsal – the actor still has the script in her hands. There doesn’t seem to be a plan to actually perform the play. It was read at Circa Theatre on the same set as King Lear is performed on, with a table and chair added as props.