The Book of Will, Lauren Gunderson 2018
Lauren Gunderson may be the best kept secret in American theatre. A 37 year old graduate of Emory, she is widely recognized as the most frequently produced living playwright in America, and who’s heard of her? I certainly had not before we attended a recent Weston Playhouse production of I and We, a truly marvelous theater experience with a surprise ending that absolutely jolted me. (Don’t miss this play if it is staged near you!) In keeping with her low profile, when I went to the Minuteman Library Network to request books by her, the only one in the entire system was The Book of Will. Shockingly low profile!!! This play was totally different that I and We. The action takes place in 1619 and revolves around the efforts of members of the King’s Company, Shakespeare’s old acting group, to publish Will’s works several years after his death and at a time when bogus versions of his plays and lousy actors were ruining his reputation. Anybody who has read or seen Shakespeare performed is aware of the confusion around the folios and quartos and the many different versions of the works, and this play gives wonderful insights into how that confusion occurred 400 years ago and continues to this day. Memorable dialogue, action, and both comedy and tragedy infuse the work. I will keep an eye out for Ms. Gunderson’s works in the future and will attend anything she’s written at any time and any place.