Reice Weathers – The Upstart Crow

Reice is part of the cast for the West End revival of Ben Elton’s critically acclaimed adaptation of the BBC sitcom Upstart Crow running at the Gielgud Theatre from the 23rd of September to the 3rd of December.

Featuring a storyline written for the stage by one of the veterans of British comedy, it will be directed by Multiple Olivier Award nominee and winner Sean Foley and will feature David Mitchell and Gemma Whelan reprising their roles as William Shakespeare and Kate.

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

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

In a 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 as it literally translates to ‘Johnny do-it-all’.

By this time Shakespeare, aged 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, moving from his backwater hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon to London to work professionally 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, he may have been the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s boastful, buffoonish, yellow-bellied knight Falstaff. 

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