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“All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented the Villain” is a chronological account of the best of the Bard’s worst – rogues, thieves and sociopaths. The production was written by the man who stars in the show, easily one of America’s most celebrated classical actors: Patrick Page. Most recently Page starred as a very bad boy himself: Hades in “Hadestown.” Don’t miss all the devilish fun on East 15th Street at the DR2 theatre.

“Hell Is Empty, and All the Devils Are Here.’

The line is from Shakespeare’s final play, “The Tempest,” in which the character of the socerer, Prospero, is thought to represent the Bard himself, a kind of farewell to his adoring public as he contemplated his own mortality.

‘The Tempest” nods gently in the direction of Machiavelli’s most quoted line: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

As those in the know (of the Bard) know well, in the end, after accruing great power Prospero/Shakespeare decides enough is too much. He breaks his magical white staff (pen?) and buries his book of magic (his plays and playwrighting?) for good. Prior to that grand gesture, however, the flesh and blood magician known as The Bard peopled his world with villains of all stripes.

Ladies first.

As Lady Macbeth, Page of the bottomless bass speaks in a haunting, jagged whisper summoning evil spirits to open the show. What follows is a short story which takes his audience back in time to the cellophane villains who populated 16th- century morality plays. He talks about how a young Shakespeare (age eight) was influenced by those shows and those of his contemporary Christopher Marlow, both triggering him to examine the role of the villain.

Throughout, Page offers context, personal and otherwise, for example, how he remains haunted by the “The Scottish Play,” aka “Macbeth.” Many argue, including Page, that Shakespeare wrote real witch’s spells into the text. The claim, Page explains, is substantiated by the fact that King James, who reigned at the time “MacBeth” was written, (1606), had published a book he himself had written on the subject of witchcraft, the Daemonologie.

According to the official website of the production:

“Dubbed “The villain of Broadway” by Playbill, Tony Award® Nominee and Grammy Award® Winner Patrick Page has never shied away from exploring his dark side. Now, with this tour de force show, he turns his attention to the twisted motivation and hidden humanity at the heart of Shakespeare’s greatest villains. Moving swiftly through the Shakespeare canon, Page illuminates the playwright’s ever-evolving conception of evil by delving into more than a dozen of his most wicked creations. Thrilling, biting, hilarious, and enlightening, what Page delivers is a masterclass on the most terrifying subject of them all: human nature.”

“All the Devils” posed other irresistible questions such as is Iago (of “Othello”) a classic sociopath? or, these days, a person  with an anti-social personality disorder. Answer, yup, text-book study. He affirms that Shylock of “The Merchant of Venice’ perfectly, chillingly reflects Shakespeare’s and his countrymen’s prejudice against Jews – which the Bard winds up questioning in “Othello.”

And so on.

I could go on.

Instead, below is a summary of the pile-up of superlatives from an online source, unedited praise for this 80-minute, unforgettable production.

“ENCHANTING…Like watching a chameleon change hues before your eyes: stupefying, effortless.” –The New York Times

“PERFECTION…One of America’s greatest classical actors.” –The Wall Street Journal

“MAGNETIC…The best one-person show I’ve come across during the pandemic.” –The Washington Post

“DELIGHTFUL…Patrick Page gives audiences an acting masterclass.” –BroadwayWorld

“Patrick Page SLAYS…A skillful solo show with a cast of fascinating bad actors.” –DC Metro Theater Arts

“INCREDIBLE…A performance masterclass that you will not want to miss.” –Theatrely

“POWERFUL…You will be riveted in this not-to-be-missed show for all to see and hear.” –MD Theatre Guide

“Page performs the soliloquies with PASSION and PRECISION.” –New York Theater

“TERRIFIC…A spectacular evening of avant-garde acting and production.” –K Street Magazine

“EXCELLENT…Patrick Page is nothing short of magnificent.” –Interludes

“THRILLING…Not only mesmerizing and compelling but also greatly entertaining.” –CultureVulture

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