For fans of…Black Sails, Harlots, Da Vinci’s Demons, the White Princess
Shakespeare has always been shrouded in mystery as not much is known about him prior to bursting onto the London theatre scene in the 16th century. The new TNT series Will aims to put their own spin on the bard’s origin story with a punk rock interpretation of 16th century London.
The first episode follows young Will as he leaves Stratford-Upon-Avon, his wife, kids and Catholic family for London to seek his fortune as a playwright. Lead actor, Laurie Davidson perfectly captures the wide-eyed innocence of the fish-out-of-water Will as he makes his way through London.
I also appreciate that Will the show immediately established that William Shakespeare was married to Ann Hathaway and had kids so they are at least providing some upkeep of historical accuracy.
They do create a religious narrative for Will as a Catholic in a Protestant country which feels like the definite weak spot in the show. Anyone that took British History knows about the persecution of Catholics in England during the 16th century (it’s the reason we burn the effigy of a guy and set off fireworks on the 5th November) however it doesn’t feel all that interesting surround by the pageantary of the theatre. I feel like historical dramas feel the need to be ‘serious’ in some aspects, but silly, outrageous fun in corsets is enjoyable in itself.
As Will makes his way to the Globe we see how crowds in the 16th century saw the theatre with rioting and audiences making themselves ‘known’. It’s glorious and indictative of the current climate at the time (no matter what your English teacher says Shakespeare was supposedly to be fun)
The show goes on with introductions of historical figures including Richard Burbage famed Shakespearan actor, there’s also the addition of a sister that becames a tenatitive romantic interest, I’m not sure if I really care about that bit.
The counterpart for the naive Will is Christopher Marlowe, played by Jamie Campbell Bower (whom I initally thought was playing the lead role for the first five minutes) Christopher Marlowe has always been an underrated branch of British history as a celebrated playwright, British spy and the best sixteenth century sexually fluid bae is a first episode enigma.
Overall, I’m vaguely charmed by this series as 90% of it eschews historical accuracy in favour of campness. In 2004 it was would have probably been a feature length film but this will be a series I’ll be paying attention to. It’s well acted and the punk rock aesthetic is original and largely the story is fun enough to overlook any pitfalls.
And another thing….
-Precocious young boy with a brooaddd London accent seems to be a staple of American made shows about England
-It’s cute how sunny this show based in London is
-I don’t care about the religious stuff at-all
-‘Will’ is a terrible name for a show in terms of social media/seo you’re going to have people discussing upcoming deaths on #will