Or, “The Dark Lady’s Revenge,” as characters from William Shakespeare’s past revisit him at the peak of his career as England’s leading dramatist.
A pathetic meeting between Shakespeare and his old lover—once immortalized as a treacherous, promiscuous, irresistible woman in the sonnets, now ravaged by syphilis—ends in conflagration and death. As she and the Bard flee a suddenly burning building, she falls to her death from the roof. Even worse, it seems that someone is out to kill the playwright. Shakespeare consults with the new king’s right-hand man, Sir Robert Cecil, Keeper of the Privy Seal, but gets little help until he’s framed for the gruesome murder of a young protégé. Cecil gets him out of jail, but it’s up to Shakespeare to save himself from the stalker’s coils, and to protect his wife and daughters back in Stratford-upon-Avon. Relying on unexpected help from a young farmer, his wife Anne Hathaway, and Hamlet’s Ghost, Shakespeare manages to foil the psychopath who’s surprisingly anachronistic for Elizabethan specialist Tourney (Frobisher’s Savage, 1994, etc.).
The Bard comes off poorly in this faddish incarnation. He fails to use either his imagination or even rudimentary logic to uncover obvious clues, demonstrates no sense of humor (where did those comedies come from?), and is all too similar to his own creation, the mopey, indecisive Hamlet.