IndyFringe: Shakespeare’s Histories – Ten Epic Plays at a Breakneck Pace

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By John Lyle Belden

Timothy Mooney returns to IndyFringe with the show that started his series of “Breakneck” Shakespeare presentations. He sets up a one-hour timer (also the limit of a Fringe show) and proceeds to get everything said before it hits 60:00:00.

As he had done here with “Julius Caesar,” this is more a historical lecture — giving real-world context in which Shakespeare worked — than just a presentation of a play. This is essential when dealing with 10 dramas, extending through the centuries from the infamous King John all the way to Henry VIII (father of Elizabeth I, ruler in the Bard’s era). But if you are thinking of the dull, dry lessons you had in high school or college, fear not! Mooney makes the history come alive, complete with projected visual aids, and punctuated with the words Shakespeare put in these monarchs’ and nobles’ mouths. 

The keyword to all of this, Mooney explains, is succession, and the more unclear the passing of the throne goes, the more people fight and die, inspiring some great stage drama. We “tell tales of the death of kings” as “we happy few” in the audience actually get a sense of what the Wars of the Roses were, and why poor Richard would give “my kingdom for a horse!”

We even get a few words from Joan of Arc, who doesn’t come off as a saint in Shakespeare’s telling.

Those familiar with Mooney’s work will not be disappointed, and those who aren’t are in for a treat. This rapid-fire jam-packed entertainment is on the main stage of the District Theatre — one of the bigger venues, yet this might still sell out.

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