Will (2017)
7.4/10
125
2 user 1 critic

The Play's the Thing 

During a time of religious turmoil in England, Will Shakespeare arrives in London from the small town of Stratford with little more than a dream and a treasonous letter.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
William Shakespeare
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Alice Burbage
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Richard Topcliffe
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Richard Burbage
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Christopher Marlowe
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Kemp
Lukas Rolfe ...
Presto
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James Burbage
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Edward Arden
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Ellen Burbage
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Walsingham
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Ann Shakespeare
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Hamnet Shakespeare
Cleopatra Dickens ...
Judith Shakespeare
...
Susanne Shakespeare
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Storyline

During a time of religious turmoil in England, Will Shakespeare arrives in London from the small town of Stratford with little more than a dream and a treasonous letter.

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Drama

Certificate:

TV-MA
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Details

Release Date:

10 July 2017 (USA)  »

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Goofs

There is no firm evidence that Shakespeare was Catholic, and much that he was Anglican, like almost all of England at that time. He was baptized Anglican, married in an Anglican church, held office in an Anglican church, buried in an Anglican churchyard, etc. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Over-the-Top and Unconvincing
10 July 2017 | by See all my reviews

In Stratford, the youthful writer Will Shakeshaft walks out on his family, leaving his wife Ann and three children in the care of his father. Will has his sights set on London where he can make his fortune as a playwright. After recounting the story of Queen Mab to his son, whom he addresses as "Prince Hamnet," Will leaves town as the biggest deadbeat dad of provincial Renaissance England.

The first episode in the series "Will" devises the fanciful conceit that playwrights were well paid in Elizabethan England. They were not, as a full-length play might fetch as much as one pound. The first program also plays loose with the known facts of the Elizabethan theaters, which presented plays, not rock concerts. Perhaps the best scene in this program was the improvised duel of playwrights as Robert Greene and Will Shakeshaft engage in a competition of inventing iambic pentameter lines.

With no basis in fact, Will simply shows up with a play in hand ("Edward III"), which is produced on the spot by the Burbage company. There was also nothing to suggest that Kit Marlowe, who likely worked as a spy for Francis Walsingham's CIA, ever thought of turning in Will Shakeshaft as a recused Catholic.

Much like the popular, fictional film "Shakespeare in Love," the opening program attempts to make Will Shakeshaft an interesting social climber and even gives him a love connection in the daughter of theater owner Burbage. But the overall effect is slow-moving and unconvincing in the depiction of the life of a literary genius.


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