REVIEW: TNT’s ‘Will’ Will Rock You

Following their unexpectedly charming summer banger Claws, TNT is bringing William Shakespeare back to life  in their newest colorfully fantastical show, Will.

Will follows the life of a young William Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson) as he leaves his wife Anne Hathaway (not the modern Oscar-winning actress) and three children behind in Stratford-upon-Avon to seek out success as a playwright in the salacious world of the London theater scene.

Though technically a period piece, Will doesn’t shy away from modernizing itself. With a similar aesthetic as A Knights Tale, we explore the Elizabethan area with no shortage of punk-rock and contemporary references, like young William participating in a wit-off, which you could imagine as the first rap battle, along with leopard print and leather worked into more than one costume. At times, you could mistake Mattias Inwood’s Richard Burbage for Eddie in FOX’s recent take on Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Davidson and Inwood share the stage with a fitting cast: Colm Meaney as James Burbage, a theater owner who gives Shakespeare a shot during a time of desperation; Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage, Will’s love interest away from his wife and daughter of James; and Jamie Campbell Bower as Christopher Marlowe, a playwright who has already found massive success and to whom Shakespeare finds himself indebted to after he saves his life and conceals his Catholicism.

Which brings us to the paralleling subplot that jaggedly runs alongside Shakespeare’s quest for fame and fortune: the battle between the Protestants and the Catholics. As soon as he arrives in London, Shakespeare is discovered to be a Catholic in a Protestant city by an orphan kid (Lukas Rolfe) looking for some financial relief for his prostitute sister. After the boy steals a note and rosary given to Shakespeare by his mother before he left, the boy cuts Shakespeare’s hand and runs off to tell the Catholic hunter in hopes of earning gold for his information.

Will is an over-the-top display of the themes that so heavily influenced Shakespeare’s writings: love, war, religion and power, and it sets out to fantastically articulate how he came to be the greatest writer and poet of all time.

Will premieres July 10 at 9pm ET on TNT; all episodes will be available next-day on-demand.

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