David Mitchell in Upstart Crow

Autographed drawing of David Mitchell in Upstart Crow in the Gielgud Theatre on London's West End

Ben Elton’s BBC TV Blackadder-esque Shakespearean sitcom UPSTART CROW first screened in May 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. In early February this year the stage version – or as Ben puts it, “an entirely original excursion, not a TV adaption,” opened at London’s Gielgud Theatre, directed by Sean Foley, with BAFTA- winner, David Mitchell reprising his lead role. The derogatory title refers to a critique of Shakespeare by his arch-rival Robert Greene, “an upstart crow, beautified with feathers.”

It is set in 1605, with Shakespeare, depressed after the death of his son Hamnet, needing to come up with a successful new play. In his LondonTheatre review Jack Hudson said that the TV series “has made an easy transition to critical acclaim in the West End. The Show is a hit-packed with intelligent, textured humour, acute historical insight, barbed wit and the welcome inclusion of a break-dancing bear.” It has been nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment or Comedy Play.

David kindly signed my Bard sketch when he arrived at the Gielgud for the final Saturday matinee before the production shut down due to the Covid-19 lockdown.