Shakespeare’s Fool

Tortive Theatre
theSpace @  Symposium Hall

4 Stars (4 / 5)


He worked with Shakespeare. He was one of the shared owners of The Globe Theatre. He was the finest clown of his era … and yet hardly anyone knows his name. 

T.G. Hofman’s text presents us with few of the available facts wrapped in a fictional biography describing the life journey of William ‘Cavaliero’ Kempe. From his first enchantment by clowns and theatre, through the years of fame and glamour until his very insignificant end in London’s streets begging for food and money. 

We find Kempe (played by Rob Leetham) already in the last era of his life. He is trying to get the attention of anyone who would be willing to listen and hopefully throw something into his hat. But at the same time, he needs to keep an eye on his food that attracts a mouse. He steps on it and while the mouse is slowly dying, it becomes the last Cavaliero’s audience. 

His counterpart is his marotte. Biting, gleeful puppet who lets him argue with itself and helps him develop the story and turn it into a dialogue, a more dramatic form than plain narrating would be. 

Captivating and energetic Leetham’s storytelling with a few bawdy jokes, eccentric gestures and fooling around doesn’t only describe Kempe or give us a taste what jig was like. It also puts flesh and vices on Shakespeare’s legend. It is very refreshing not to get the polished, almost sacred picture of Shakespeare we are used to. And just like in Kempe’s life, even in this performance, it is Shakespeare who usurps the attention in the end, simply because he is the bard and nothing can be done about that.

However, unlike Shakespeare, Kempe disappears from the audience’s memory very quickly and we realise how important a part of fame luck plays, and how harsh it is to fall from the top.