1616: New Play About Shakespeare

Shakespeare locks himself in his room where, burdened with secrets and memories, he draws together the lost and broken threads of his enigmatic life. Reflecting on his deepest loves, erotic adventures, dear friends, sworn enemies and greatest works, he wonders now where true value really lies.
At times controversial and always thoroughly researched, this sparse and physical show propels us through grimy underworlds, court subterfuges and romantic adventures.
1616 unpicks Shakespeare’s place in the theatre, his sometime questionable business dealings and the inspirations behind his works. It is an intelligent, fast paced, moving and humorous tribute to the life and work of the greatest playwright of all time.
Following five star reviews of Gareth Somers’ one man Woyzeck at Edinburgh 2014 and previous acclaim as playwright Christopher Marlowe, he revisits the one man format to play Shakespeare’s, old friends and adversaries in what promises to be a mesmerising performance of this lyrical and enlightening new play .
Kings image .

Gareth Somers : Dark Angel

Review: Dark Angel @ Lichfield Garrick Studio

Jul 8, 2011 by Annette Rubery

A bare set with books strewn across the floor, a pumping soundtrack by The Smiths and The Clash, a boy with a poem scrawled on his chest… this new play – written by Phil Preece for the Lichfield Festival, and directed by Tracey Street – is a fresh and vibrant imagining of the life of Elizabethan bad-boy Christopher Marlowe.

A contemporary of Shakespeare, Marlowe is said to have been killed in a tavern brawl in 1593, but Preece’s script skilfully draws on recent scholarly theories that the playwright/poet was, in fact, a government operative, sent to Rome to spy on the Catholics. The brawl, some believe, was simply a cover-story that allowed Marlowe to escape growing trouble in England and abscond to Italy, where he spent his final years in exile.

Dark Angel is a lively snapshot of Elizabethan England that succeeds in blowing the cobwebs off one of our greatest literary figures. Gareth Somers is splendid as Marlowe: an old rabble-rouser, now drunk and disillusioned, looking back on his rackety life. We share in the success of his radical plays, his discovery of Rome’s seamy nightlife, and finally, his bitterness at being kept from England, and the theatre: the site of his greatest achievements.

Somers is backed by a cast of three young actors (Louis Tappenden, Sian Blue Rogers and Bally Gill), whose physical performances, using minimal props and simple lighting, conjure up an irresistible punk aesthetic. As the play draws to a close we see the fate of Marlowe’s character Doctor Faustus – who famously sells his soul to the devil – begin to merge with that of his creator.

Gareth Somers Normal

Whats on London!

Sensuous Manifold presents Anthony Nielson’s ‘Normal’ at the Camden People’s Theatre Review

| Theatre | 31/07/2012

“An exploration of the relationship between reality and fiction.
Intense. Brutal. Humorous.”

The Camden People’s Theatre played host to Anthony Nielson’s production ‘Normal’ last week, directed by Patrick Duggan.

Neilson’s production opens the case of the Dusseldorf Ripper, Peter Kurten, and the relationship between himself and defence lawyer, Justus Wehner. Revealing details and gruesome events from Kurten’s past is only part of the tale. Neilson’s presents glimpses of Kurten’s marriage to a former prostitute and murderer.

We are forced to question the play ominous title…’Normal’?


Gareth Somers played mass murderer Peter Kurten in a beautifully menacing way. You can somehow empathize with his character at particular points throughout the play , as details from his past are pulled apart and scrutinised. Do these instances perhaps have an ill-effect on the way he behaved throughout his life, creating the disturbingly unremorseful Dusseldorf Ripper?

Although Peter Kurten was a mass murderer, he also managed to have a seemingly ‘normal’ lifestyle, in the form of his marriage to an ex-prostitute, played by Catherine Somers. She interweaved herself seamlessly throughout the play, providing a vast contrast to her husband Peter Kurten.

Elliott Brennan played defence lawyer Justus Wehner, providing an overall narration and balance the menacing Kurten couple. However, we are yet to wonder if he is indeed ‘Normal’ towards the end of the production.

All in all, the actors worked exceedingly well with one another, all playing their parts well without overshadowing each other.

Lack of props

The design elements within ‘Normal’ were also interesting, not lavish or outlandish at all. At most they could be described as simple, but they were very effective. The use of several wooden crates conveyed the bareness of the prison and perhaps reflected the personality of Peter Kurten. Accordingly, they were also used to create different levels to echo hierarchy among the characters. Although the actors physically changed the set throughout the play, it created meaning instead of getting in the way. It perhaps goes to show that tons of stylistic elements and props do not need to be in place in order to deem a play a success. It was more about stripping things back to basics and relying on the projection of the actors and the audience’s imaginations.

The lighting created an eerie, moody atmosphere. Perhaps a reflection of the German Expressionist era? It was much how you would imagine a prison cell to be in Dusseldorf in the early 20th century. There was one particular scene within the play in which there was a supposed power cut within the prison. This was executed beautifully, with the actors using their voices to a great extent. If this were to be done in a larger scale theatre, it may not work as well, due to the intimacy of the scene.

Overall, ‘Normal’ is exactly how it is described. Intense. Brutal. Humorous. It is not for those with a light sense of humour, as the descriptions of the gruesome murders are difficult to stomach. It was exceptionally casted with the actors playing flawed individuals battling their pasts. Thoroughly entertaining and with no interval, the play had you hooked from beginning to end, prompting you to think about specific aspects of human nature.


Gareth Somers ***** Woyzeck