Charles Nicholl

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Much Ado About Something Review


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A pleasing little documentary as detective story, Michael Rubbo's Much Ado About Something considers the possibility that William Shakespeare was largely not responsible for his prolific body of work. Digging through historical record and theory, Rubbo leans on the venerable idea that playwright Christopher Marlowe was the man, writing in exile from Italy after faking his death. Certainly when it comes to piecing together the ashes of time, there are any number of fanciful combinations to be had. It's a scholarly game Rubbo clearly adores, no matter how farfetched.

Humble curiosity might have been preferable to Rubbo's slightly arrogant skepticism, slanting his interviews to make Shakespearian scholars look like fuddy duddies while embracing crackpot mavericks spinning elaborate conjecture from limited information. As they pore through old documents finding cryptograms in Shakespeare's epitaph, it's akin to decoding precisely what prophets meant in the Holy Bible or Koran: Anything goes.

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