This “hysterical (and occasionally historical) 90-minute gallop through all things Shakespearean” is an irreverent one-man everything there is ‘to be or not to be’ about William Shakespeare: the greatest soliloquies ever written along with accounts of the funniest disasters ever perpetrated on the stage. Rees plays all parts from Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard II through to Juliet’s foolish nurse, with other literary characters, including Charles Dickens, James Thurber and Noel Coward also making appearances.
What You Will was first seen at the Folger Theatre, Washington and had a brief UK run in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010. The piece draws on Rees’ own experiences from 22 years as a company member of the RSC, during which time he played Hamlet, Berowne, Roderigo, Posthumous, Claudio and countless other Shakespearean roles as well as the title performance in Trevor Nunn and John Caird’s original 1980 two-part adaptation of Charles Dickens The Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
The last transferred in 1982 to Broadway, winning Rees the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. In more recent years, the Welshman – who now resides in the States and who became a US citizen in 1989 - has appeared on Broadway in Uncle Vanya, The Rehearsals and Indiscretions. His other credits include: on stage, the premiere of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, Cymbeline, The End of the Day and A Man of No Importance; and on screen, Cheers, The Ebony Tower, Robin Hood and The West Wing.
Rees also served as artistic director of the esteemed Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts from 2004 to 2007, and co-directed the Broadway hit, Peter and the Starcatcher, which was the most nominated show in this year’s Tony Awards and is now tipped for a West End transfer.
In 2010, Rees made his West End comeback after an absence of more than 20 years to star opposite his former RSC colleague Ian McKellen in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.