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Shakespeare’s Keeper – which could easily replace the first month of a standard Shakespeare class – is set backstage at the Globe Theatre in London. It is June 1613, and Nathan Dabbs (Matthew Gray), a failed actor, is relegated to a life behind the scenes when he could have been one of the great ones (at least by his own account). His alcoholic monologue is a dizzying study of envy, emotional claustrophobia, liberation through imagination, and critical acuity. Deprived of his career as an actor, looking back over his life, justifying himself, Dabbs gets in some hilarious bits mocking various actors, even Shakespeare himself, and never suspects that when he goes to fire the cannons for the ongoing performance of Henry VIII (a play that he hates), he will bring his whole world to an end.


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