Review: Stellar cast from Red River Youth Theatre wow crowds with performance of fictional tale “Shakespeare in Hinckley”

Mason Moore | Hinckley Reporter | 25 April 2022

TODAY (25 April), I had the pleasure of watching one of the last performances of ‘Shakespeare in Hinckley’ inside of Argents Mead, which was performed by the talented actors from Hinckley’s Red River Youth Theatre Group.

The cast of ‘Shakespeare in Hinckley’ (Image: Mason Moore)

The play is based on a fictional tale by Neil Roberts, which explores the great bard himself, William Shakespeare – colloquially referred to as ‘Will’ throughout, suffering from writer’s block as he mourns the passing of his son, Hamnett.

In the tale, the world-famous playwright ended up in Hinckley after travelling over from the nearby Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, after his wife, Ann, encouraged him to head over to Hinckley Fair, in order to pick up a new horse.

Whilst in the town, Will enjoyed a pint of local ale, met Jane from Bosworth, who sells horses, who he had first mistook to be a barmaid upon first glance – and the poor poet had even had purse of coins snatched by a thief at the fair.

He further introduced himself to Jane after he explained that he wanted a horse, but she had already noticed this after she had caught him catching a glimpse of the horse at the market, with an eager eye to buy it.

Will was surprised to hear that the horses were Jane’s own, and that her husband had passed, and she had to learn to cope with the loss of him.

Amazingly, in what was an incredible unscripted coincidence, when Shakespeare approached a member of the audience for directions to Bosworth, he was helped by the Hinckley District historian, Paul Gardner, of Hinckley District Past and Present.

During his sleep for the night on Bosworth Field, he met with the ghosts of past kings and his son – Hamnett – and although this interaction shocked him initially, making him confused and saddened, he was encouraged by his son to keep writing.

Inspired by his son’s humble words with admiration, this sparks Shakespeare to become inspired to put quill to paper once again.

He returns home with his horse free of charge, and tells Ann of the good news that he wants to start writing his much-loved plays once again.

My thoughts on the performance

The stellar cast was made up of Peter Michael Smith, as Shakespeare, Chelsie Jade Faulkes as Jane, Luke Stevenson as Hamnett, and Ella Hill as Ann.

The cast members knew how to entertain the audience at all times which kept viewers invested in the story – and their convincing acting and emotive language left me longing for a continuation of the play.

It was exciting to see characters that were previously once only part of a written story bought to life and perfectly portrayed in a real-world performance.

I am delighted to hear that Chelsie Jade Faulkes will be portraying Hinckley’s very own historic novelist, Charlotte Brame, in a forthcoming play, which is being arranged by Red River Theatre – I’m already looking forward to watching her perform once again.

Chelsie is an extraordinarily talented up and coming talent to look out for, so I’d highly recommend heading on down and watching the next show when further details are announced.

For those who missed it, a past performance of the production has been uploaded to video sharing site YouTube.

The Red River Youth Theatre Group can be liked on Facebook and followed on Instagram for updates on their future performances.

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