It's a Shakespeare mix-tape that features a lot of the hits as well as some deep tracks, but it's not just a hodgepodge of personal history and poetry—by blending the two, Bate refutes the anti-Stratfordians, crafting a cogent argument for how a middle-class son of a glover may have become our language's greatest man of letters—how many of the events of his plays may have had roots in his personal experience.
Callow manifests a mastery of the material, hopping between narrator and an array of roles, adjusting accents and attitudes, wholly slipping in and out of new characters—including a bawdy Falstaff—sometimes playing entire dialogue scenes by himself. His musical voice sweetens sonorous and emotional readings, and he also avoids cliches: in Macbeth's famous soliloquy, he resists the standard "out! OUT! brief candle" intonation, instead snapping his fingers as he rushes through the outs, spitting out "brief candle" as though it were a cherry pit caught in his jaw. Bate pays tribute to Shakespeare with his argument for authorship; Callow does it through tribute to the words themselves.
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