The Shakespeare mystery

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  May 7, 2008

What about the ART’s Cardenio? Does it have anything to do with Shakespeare?
Although Greenblatt and Mee are said to have started from the text of Double Falshood, they incorporate the “Curioso impertinente” subplot. Their tale is set in contemporary Umbria, where Americans Anselmo and Camila have gathered their friends to celebrate their wedding. After the ceremony, Anselmo starts to have doubts about his new bride’s fidelity and asks his unwilling best friend, Will, to hit on her. Meanwhile, Anselmo’s parents, both of them actors, arrive with a couple of surprises: a copy of Shakespeare’s lost play Cardenio, which they want the wedding party to put on, and Anselmo’s (beautiful, of course) former classmate Susana, whom they want to star in this little amateur production. So there are many Bardic elements in the set-up, and it was a neat twist to move from the “Curioso impertinente” subplot to the main Cardenio story by adding Susana and prompting you to wonder which guy will wind up with which girl. As for whether the execution of this plot is also Shakespearean, the only way to find out is to go watch.

CARDENIO | Written by Stephen Greenblatt and Charles Mee | American Repertory Theatre @ Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | May 10–June 8 | $15-$79 | 617.547.8300 orwww.amrep.org

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