Following his recent Jessie Award, Best Actor win for Realwheels’ Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Bob Frazer returns to Bard in a very different role playing William Shakespeare in Bill Cain’s Equivocation. We caught up with Bob to get his thoughts on the play and why he thinks it will stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre.
What’s it like to play Shakespeare after playing so many of his characters?
I approached the character of Shakespeare (or Shagspeare as he’s called in the play) as I would approach any other character. I approached him the same way I approached Richard III, Hamlet or Petruchio: as a human being. By finding his heart and soul. You can find as much information as you want on the “factual”, “historical” person called Shakespeare but the truth is we don’t know if any of it is true. In fact, his very existence is debated to this day. So what could I rely on? The script and my truth, I guess. I tried to find the character’s truth. By eliminating the iconic playwright figure that we think Shakespeare is, hopefully what I’ve done is created a human being. Someone that anyone can relate to. So what does all this theatre mumbo jumbo mean? It means that the character that is presented is human. Don’t expect to see your version of who you think Shakespeare is. Expect to see a play about six people and their very unique, thrilling and beautiful situation.
The play’s a thriller, and also funny and poignant. What hat do you think will appeal most to Shakespeare lovers about this play and what appeals most to you?
Equivocation has been called many things by many people. My favourite story is when I went for drinks after a performance at the Belfry Theatre with two good friends, one a playwright and the other a poet/novelist. I asked them what they took away from the play. Immediately the playwright said he enjoyed the father-daughter relationship. He found it extremely moving and challenging. Without hesitation his partner said, “REALLY? No way! The theatrical family and the notions of what theatre is was the best part.” I was kind of taken aback and in that moment I realized that there are a million different things a person can walk away with when watching this show and each one is amazing. The conversation didn’t die there and in fact went on for quite a few more minutes. I loved it. It’s what great theatre should do. Evoke discussion. However, I will say this. If you are a Shakespeare nerd, you will LOVE this play. If you are a person who loves stories and doesn’t know much about Shakespeare… don’t worry, you will LOVE this play. This play will give you so much more than just “Shakespeare”. It’ll give you life, thoughts, and it will challenge you.
Why do you think people unfamiliar with Shakespeare will enjoy this play?
I guess I’ve answered this question already, but I’ll add this to it. Bill Cain wrote this play to express his love of the theatre. His biggest hope is that people walk away with a new found knowledge of the theatre. That they will see the insides of it and appreciate the love and trust that goes on in a “co-operative venture”. I will say that above all else, unfamiliar-with-Shakespeare fans will get so much more out of this play than a history lesson. They will get the heart and soul of six characters that will stay with them long after the lights go out.
Do you have a favourite Bob Frazer performance? Let us know in the comments below and check out the trailer for Equivocation – on the Howard Family Stage until Sept 19.