Christopher Hunt in When That I Was is simply superb! From moment to moment, he changes as though quicksilver: from aged Jack Rice to the same as mere boy; from young wanton to Elizabeth I; and delightfully to Shakespeare, his various characters and those who played them, the bard’s lovers and wife. The transitions are seamless, magic.
Set in Puritan England, there is much about this play by Edward Atienza and John Mortimer that resonates today…the Puritans’ suppression of the theatre, the public flogging of the actors, the hard times befallen the narrator, himself once a player. A parable for our times?
Beyond the political is that which is so very human in this play. There is lust and longing, ribaldry and jealousy. And, in a play so very much about Shakespeare, there is, of course, love and loss. Throughout runs the poignant undercurrent that we are all “poor player[s] that strut and fret [our] hour upon the stage, and then [are] heard no more.” As a storyteller myself, I was completely spellbound by Christopher Hunt’s storyteller, and touched by the homage paid to those who write and create plays.
I urge you to see this remarkable performance and this wonderful play! A big standing O!
As part of Shadow Theatre’s season of “Escapes and Pursuits,” the show runs until March 24 at the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton. http://www.shadowtheatre.org