It’s 1606, and the Catholic problem is buzzing in the bonnet of King James’ chief know-it-all, Robert Cecil. In Bill Cain’s Equivocation, direct from its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this spring, Cecil commissions William Shakespeare to craft a king-flattering, Catholic-impugning drama about the previous year’s Gunpowder Plot (Guy Fawkes, etc.), in order to justify and re-popularize the regime’s century-long persecution of Catholics. Plays within plays, interrogations, drawing and quartering, beheading and hanging, all’s routine in the regency’s homeland security program. Cain, a Jesuit priest, was inspired after 9/11 by the proximity of the bloody Tower of London to the Globe Theater, which got him speculating about the relationship between the two structures, and the nexus of truth, theater and politics. The OSF production is directed by Bill Rauch and stars Anthony Heald (The Silence of the Lambs, Boston Legal) as the bought bard, with a cast of six playing 20 roles. MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.]

Wednesdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Nov. 18. Continues through Dec. 13, 2009

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