Reice Weathers – Upstart Crow

Reice will be making his West End Debut in Ben Elton’s adaptation of the critically acclaimed BBC sitcom Upstart Crow running at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue from the 7th of February to the 25th of April. 

Featuring an entirely brand-new storyline written for the stage by one of the great veterans of British comedy, it will be directed by Multiple Olivier Award nominee and winner Sean Foley and will feature David Mitchell as ‘The Immortal Bard’ William Shakespeare and co-star Gemma Whelan (AKA Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) as Kate. 

The name “Upstart Crow” originates from a pamphlet written by a rival author of Shakespeare’s by the name of Robert Greene.

A successful dramatist in his own right, Greene is considered one of first known professional playwrights and his work is often seen as having directly influenced Shakespeare’s writing.

In this tract entitled Greene’s Groats-Worth of Wit printed after his death in 1592, he scathingly critiques Shakespeare calling him “An upstart crow, beautified with our feathers” and “an absolute Johannes fac totum“, calling him a jack of all trades but a master of none (literally translating to ‘Johnny do-it-all’).

By this time Shakespeare, at the age of 28, may have already penned The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, Richard III and Henry VI Parts 1,2 & 3 and had moved from his then-backwater hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon to London to work as a playwright and actor.

Clearly this would-be dramatist from rural Warwickshire was ruffling feathers within the university-educated establishment, of which Greene was a card-carrying member. Greene gained degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge whilst Shakespeare’s only formal education as at King’s New School in Stratford, his local grammar school.

Shakespeare would get his revenge on Greene with some experts speculating that, with his colourful and irresponsible character, Greene may have been the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s boastful, buffoonish and yellow-bellied knight Falstaff. 

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