The Word You Wont Forget

by Susan Monaghan

“Equivocation” by Bill Cain is a ‘what-if’ play.  What if the greatest playwright who ever lived was ordered by his government to write a propaganda piece about the worst crisis of his era (it has been called “The 9-11 of its Day”) and rob the people of the truth?

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 involved 13 religious zealots conspiring to destroy the English government and it’s monarchy by blowing up Parliament at a time when King and ministers were all under the same roof.

Although the conspirators were caught in the nick of time the event shook the nation, and anyone belonging to the ‘wrong’ religion, namely Roman Catholicism, could not expect fair treatment by their government or even their neighbors.

What remained in the aftermath was for the staunchly Protestant government led by King James I and Secretary of State Robert Cecil, to ensure that the right version of events, their version is the one to make it into the history books.  To help accomplish this they engage (forcibly) Master William Shakespeare to write a play supporting their ‘facts’.  However Shakespeare being Shakespeare is driven to examine both sides of the conflict and suspects that events may not be entirely what the government is feeding the nation.  With threats on one side and his conscience on the other, he seeks out accused plotter Father Garnet in the Tower of London from whom he not only wants the truth, but to learn the art of equivocation.  As Shakespeare himself says “Lie or die.  Those are my options….I want to tell the truth, I just don’t want to get caught at it.”

KT actor Bruce Rayfuse tackles the role of Shakespeare: “..or Shagspeare, according to playwright Cain’s favourite contemporary misspelling.  This play tells the story of a man’s struggle to tell the truth in a dangerous time.  How is a man to remain true to his conscience when a misstep could cost him his head?” 
Equivocation.  That’s how.  It’s a word seldom used, but one you won’t soon forget.

Kanata Theatre honours the 400th Anniversary of the Death of Shakespeare with “Equivocation” which runs November 8 to 19 at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way.  Tickets are $20.  The Playhouse is fully accessible and parking is free.