July 31, 2006, by Peter Kirwan

Edward III and Sir Thomas More

There’s one thing about the Complete Works that disappoints me a bit, and that’s the lack of two plays: ‘Sir Thomas More’ and ‘Edward III‘.

Who? Well, they’re part of what some people call Shakespeare’s ‘apocrypha’, the plays which there’s still debate about whether he actually wrote or not. There are several plays which people argue about, but these are two which are quite commonly accepted as at least partly Shakespeare’s now– the second edition of the Oxford Shakespeare includes both in their entirety, for example. The RSC even put on ‘Thomas More’ at the Swan last year, as part of their Gunpowder Season, billing it as Shakespeare’s banned play.

The reason I’m a bit disappointed by their omission is that it would have been a great chance to see two rarely–performed plays– even an event like that put on for ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’, which would have allowed audiences to raise questions about the plays’ authorship and learn something about the plays would have been very interesting.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter, of course– all the plays that are fully accepted as Shakespeare’s are in the Festival, and if you put on every single play that had a disputed Shakespearean authorship, the Festival would be running for months longer. I do wish there’d been something though, even in the amateur Festival. At least I got the chance to see ‘Thomas More’ last year, and hopefully ‘Edward III‘ will find it’s way back to Stratford at some point!

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