April 1, 2011, by Alex Patterson
Double Falsehood: Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Play’
On Monday 11 October 2010, Nottingham Playhouse hosted ‘Lost Shakespeare Day‘ showcasing the first public reading of the Jacobean play ‘Double Falsehood’.
Professor Brean Hammond, Professor of Modern English Literature in the School of English, has been working for 10 years to prove that a play presented at Drury Lane in December 1727 contains the ‘DNA’ of the lost Shakespeare-Fletcher collaboration of 1612-13, Cardenio. The play’s eighteenth-century adapter, Lewis Theobald, has been considered a hoaxer or forger, but Professor Hammond’s Arden edition of the play, published in March last year to international acclaim and interest, should lay that accusation to rest.
The dramatized reading was performed by professional actors and directed by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Michael Fentiman. The reading was preceded by a lecture by Professor Hammond which also included a special panel discussion and a question and answer session.
Artistic Director of the Nottingham Playhouse, Giles Croft, said: “It’s very exciting for us to be able to bring together two such significant cultural institutions in Nottingham in this way and we are delighted that Michael Fentiman from the RSC will be directing the reading. If the reading is a success then this may be the prelude to a full production”.
You can also listen to Professor Hammond talk about his research.
Theatrical interest in the play runs high.
An amateur production by the KDC company, directed by Barrie Addenbrooke, was first on the stage at the Union Theatre, Southwark, London (Shakespeare’s own borough) in August 2010. That was followed by MokitaGrit’s professional version at the same theatre in February 2011, directed by Phil Willmott. And the play has just been staged at the Classic Stage Company, New York, from the 12th March to the 3rd April 2011. Brian Kulick’s production was beautifully staged, designed to show that the play is a very strong theatre piece in its own right.
Just opened under the title Cardenio is Greg Doran’s version for the Royal Shakespeare Company, based on Double Falsehood in Brean Hammond’s edition, but with some intriguing additions.