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Fringe Review: Shakespeare Crackpot

By Barbara Popel on June 19, 2016

45 min | Comedy, Solo | PG

Keir Cutler is a Shakespeare crackpot. That is, he does not believe that Will Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him. Our culture calls such people “crackpots”. Hence the moniker.

“Doctor Keir” does indeed have a PhD in Theatre with a background in English literature.  He describes his impressive family background to explain why it was inevitable that he go to university and that he excel academically.  He also describes how he learned to garner straight “A”s by parroting his professors’ opinions in his term papers.  And then he reveals how he came to doubt Shakespeare’s authorship…how he became a “Shakespeare crackpot”.

The show/lecture starts with Cutler very effectively engaging the audience. Unfortunately, he ceases doing so after the first few minutes.  He then, quite amusingly, describes how, about a century after Shakespeare’s death, the little town of Stratford remade itself into a tourist destination second only to London:  “Shakespeare had become divine and Stratford his shrine.”  He switches back to his personal history.  We hear about the paucity of academic inquiry at universities and his epiphany about who wrote Shakespeare.   Mark Twain was a particularly strong influence on him.  Cutler repeatedly attacks academics who refuse to consider evidence to the contrary about Shakespeare’s authorship, who say the subject is “taboo and walled off from study”.  Of course, since none of these academics are there to defend themselves and Cutler is an entertaining speaker, this is pretty easy to do.

Cutler’s treats the audience to some lovely quotes. For example, Albert Einstein said, “The only thing keeping me from learning more is my education.” George Bernard Shaw stated that, “All great truths begin as blasphemies.”

What Cutler doesn’t give us – and I wish he would! – is a reading list of the books that question Shakespeare’s authorship, all of “the books that are full of mischief.” If he’d like us to think for ourselves, then give us the tools to do so!

Cutler’s show is more of a didactic monologue than a stand-up comedy routine. If you’re up for an entertaining talk that encourages critical thinking, then Shakespeare Crackpot is your cup of tea. Even if you’re a Bardolator.

Shakespeare Crackpot by Keir Cutler is playing in Studio Leonard-Beaulne on Saturday June 18 at 2:00pm; Sunday June 19 at 8:30pm; Tuesday, June 21 at 10:30pm; Friday June 24 at 7:00pm; Saturday June 25 at 4:30pm. Tickets $12.