The History of Cardenio

After my appetite was whetted by Wednesday’s talk, I attended the performance of The History of Cardenio which took place at the Mary Wallace Theatre in Twickenham. The play uses surviving fragments of Shakespeare’s and Fletcher’s manuscript, and Gary Taylor has added to them, aiming to turn the fragments into a coherent whole.

I found the play amusing and enjoyable, full of betrayal, intrigue and villainy, with a subplot featuring none other than Don Quixote himself. I’m sure an expert would feel differently, but on this first viewing I couldn’t tell the difference between Shakespeare’s lines, Fletcher’s, and Gary Taylor’s. In this respect the adaptation was certainly successful. The amateur cast portrayed their roles well, and the simple set served its purpose amply. I’m glad I took the opportunity to see what is probably Shakespeare’s rarest work.

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