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Shakespeare in doubt

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Thursday Frontline airs “Much Ado About Something” which explores the idea that Shakespear didn’t write the plays attributed to him.

Michael Rubbo who made the documentary for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation just doesn’t think the Bard has the background to have produced such brilliant work. He finds people who agree with him including Mark Rylance who is artistic director of the Globe Theater and John Baker. He also talks to skeptics such as Prof. Jonathan Bate.

The theory Rubbo examines is that the playwright Christopher Marlowe faked his death, retreated to Italy and wrote the plays. Although I wasn’t convinced, Marlowe and those devoted to him are interesting characters.

Others think Francis Bacon wrote the plays. In 1989 “Frontline” aired “The Shakespeare Mystery” (the extensive website was created in 1996) which examined the theory that it was the Earl of Oxford.

Rubbo has more of a sense of humor than your average producer for the flagship PBS documentary series. He writes about making the film.

Gavin McNett wrote at length on the documentary early last year when it played at Film Forum in New York City (it also was shown at the Roxie in San Francisco and in a few other cities).

You can read all of Marlowe’s plays and poetry.

This originally appeared on TVBarn.

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About Steve Rhodes

  • This is a fantastic film, though for my money the best way to see it is the way I did, i.e. at a screening set up by Mike Rubbo himself where you could discuss it with him afterwards. Since he couldn’t get a conventional cinema or TV release for it (he made it for the ABC but they still haven’t shown it), he went on the road with it himself, screening it wherever he could, and usually not at regular cinema-type places (I saw it in a small room in a National Trust gallery at Observatory Hill). I don’t know if I was convinced that Marlowe was the real man behind the works of Shakespeare, but I did leave the screening and discussion session reasonably convinced that not only was the question “did Shakespeare write Shakespeare’s plays?” an interesting one (I never gave it much time before) but that it had legs too. Remarkable what passions it stirs in people, too…