The Legacy of William Ireland



PQA Venues, Riddle’s Court, Edinburgh

Ah, the unforgettable works of Shakespeare! Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Vortigern and Rowena… wait… Vortigern and Rowena? Chances are you’ve never heard of that one, mostly because it wasn’t actually written by the bard of Stratford but by a wannabe poet and playwright named William Henry Ireland, who also pursued a lucrative sideline in passing off his mediocre efforts as the work of the great man himself.

It all began modestly enough, with Ireland forging bills-of-sale bearing Will’s signature, mostly in an attempt to impress his Shakespeare-obsessed father, but – as time went on – things got somewhat out of hand…

This wittily scripted monologue by Tim Connery depicts Ireland as his deception is uncovered, understandably nervous and ready to flee for his life. Charlie Jack not only plays the fraudster with self-deprecating aplomb, but also looks uncannily like the man himself. I find myself torn between despising Ireland’s guile and feeling rather sorry for him, since the whole deception appears to be fuelled by a desperate attempt to impress the father who clearly hates him.

This is a fascinating look at a little-known historical event and, apart from a bit of dramatic licence in the final act, it sticks pretty close to the unbelievable truth.

Anyway, enough of this. I’m off to forge a new Harry Potter novel. You never know, it might just work…

4 stars

Philip Caveney



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