There was one ticket left at the Thursday night performance of the Simon Callow show – sorry, performance – at the Liverpool Playhouse and, very luckily, I got it.

‘Shakespeare – The Man from Stratford’ by Jonathan Bate is his first stage play for 30 years but Gadzooks, sirrah, ’tis worth the wait with a double hey nonny no.

Callow is something of a modern version of the Renaissance man with a list of critically acclaimed biographies of Orson Welles and Charles Laughton to add to his distinguished stage and film career.

His autobiography ‘My Life in Pieces’ has just been published -so all in all what we have here is a right clever dick – this Simon really has got talent and it constantly hits you between the eyes during the full two hour show.

His latest one-man performance is a portrait of Shakespeare the ordinary bloke from the midlands (rather than the WORLD’S GREATEST DRAMATIC GENIUS) through ‘The Seven Ages of Man’, from birth to death, whose personality is brought to life mainly via speeches from his plays and contemporary letters.

Callow paints a lively, warts ‘n’ all portrait of the Bard with impeccable renditions which shed real light on man whose vibrant brilliance has been occasionally dulled in the classroom.

But fear not, Banquo, there are ‘bugger me’ moments galore – at least there were for me. How many other members of the audience knew that Shakespeare’s son Hamlet died of the plague at the age of 15? Callow explains how this affected his work, illustrated most notably in the play of the same name, but in other works too.

But Callow takes it all one step further and that’s what has brought the house down in Liverpool all week . What he gives us is a vivid portrayal a politically volatile and violent society, wracked by war, poverty and the plague – and that’s on a good day – and cleverly draws comparisons to today’s society.

Callow has played to full audiences throughout the week and continues his tour until August 30th.

If you haven’t yet got a ticket for his Liverpool shows which end tomorrow, Saturday 19th June, I would urge you beg, borrow or crawl over broken glass to Dunsinane to get hold of a ticket. You won’t be disappointed.

Shakespeare, The Man From Stratford

to 19 June, Playhouse, Williamson Square, Liverpool

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