Robert’s Shakespeare is a woman-hating tyrant

PUBLISHED: 17:10 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:10 17 February 2017

Robert Barron, 22,  is a playwright from Hornchurch.

Robert Barron, 22, is a playwright from Hornchurch.


Perhaps the greatest writer known in the English language, Shakespeare has been celebrated throughout history and his plays continue to attract a sea of adoring fans.

A Nothing Like the Sun dress rehearsal. Photo: Tess Van Leeuwen and Bathway Theatre Network.A Nothing Like the Sun dress rehearsal. Photo: Tess Van Leeuwen and Bathway Theatre Network.

But in his new play, Robert Barron, 22, of Northumberland Avenue, Hornchurch, paints The Bard as a sinister tyrant.

Nothing Like The Sun sees five of Shakespeare’s characters locked in a relentless performance cycle lasting 400years who plan a break for freedom.

“The play is set in The Cellar, which is like a limbo where five of Shakespeare’s female characters live, surrounded by all of his dirty clothes which he makes them wash for him,” explains Robert.

“Every day, Shakespeare comes down the stairs and unlocks the door to The Cellar to take the women one by one up to a stage, which we never see.

A Nothing Like the Sun dress rehearsal. Photo: Tess Van Leeuwen and Bathway Theatre Network.A Nothing Like the Sun dress rehearsal. Photo: Tess Van Leeuwen and Bathway Theatre Network.

“They perform their parts in his plays before they’re returned to The Cellar and have lived through this never-ending cycle for hundreds of years, since he first created them.

“He’s like this god figure to them, but he’s a warped, twisted god in that all his actions do is create pain for the women.”

The former Hall Mead School, Marlborough Gardens, Upminster, pupil had wanted to write since he was seven.

“I only ever really thought about writing books,” he continues.

“Then at 18 I suddenly became obsessed with films and decided I also wanted to write and direct them.

“I wrote and directed a short film last summer.”

During the film process, Robert became friends with Tasmine Airey and Brock Elwick who came up with the idea for the play.

Haven written a short version of it, they asked Robert to write a longer detailed version.

“I’m really glad I decided to do it because now I’ve added plays to the list of things I want to write.

“We intended to take a much less common and more controversial approach to Shakespeare and his work.

“We wanted to portray him not as the wise, respectable figure that most people tend to think of him as but as a misogynistic villain instead, someone who is abusive and evil to women and we wanted to look at the broader issues that a man with those characteristics creates.

“We aren’t necessarily saying that Shakespeare was that type of person for sure, but that’s the version of him that exists in this play and it was very interesting to consider what it says about society when such a huge number of people worship the work of a man like that.

“Every man who disregards women and looks down on them as inferior purely because of their gender is, surely in any sensible person’s mind, not someone to be praised as Shakespeare is by so many.”

Robert continues:“Look at The Taming of the Shrew’s Katharina. She gets physically and psychologically tortured by her husband in that play, she’s deprived of food and sleep until she’s forced to submit to his every whim or face more torment.

“And of course, because Shakespeare wrote that story for her to be a part of, she’s understandably filled with all this raw hatred for him and when you combine that with the fact that he keeps them prisoner in this dark, squalid room, you can see why she and the other women are desperate to change things.

“Of course, that whole idea, women’s lives being dictated by men, doesn’t just exist within the fiction of this play. It’s real. That’s the world we live in.

“You only have to look at people like Donald Trump to realise how far we still have to go. He banned federal money from being used by groups that provide information on abortions. That was a man deciding what women can and can’t do with their bodies and that’s not right.”

The play had its opening night at Theatre Utopia in Croydon last week and he hopes for it to hit a stage in the borough in the near future.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Romford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Romford Recorder