A little more than 400 years ago, the plague was creating havoc among the population in England. Local communities were quarantining themselves and driving away visitors from their villages with pitchforks and axes. There was a general sense of distrust, and those suspected of being carriers were driven away by violent mobs. These visuals from 400 years ago are not unlike what we see today. These scenes form the setting for the story of Hemings and Condell, two unsung heroes, who have changed the history of entertainment as we know it today. Hemings and Condell, ‘Players’ who have fallen upon difficult times because of the pandemic, contemplate giving up on their passion for the stage to settle for a less flamboyant but secure life, selling groceries or fish. Destiny has other plans when they come into contact with William Shakespeare, a playwright who join them to form ‘Lord Chamberlin’s men’ a new company of player. This is the start of a historic partnership that goes on to change the world of literature and theatre.
Hemings and Condell is a feature-length screenplay from writer Martin Keady. Keady uses a few forgotten pages from history to bring alive a tale of camaraderie and friendship that has shaped the history of entertainment as we know it today. Set in the early 17th century, Keady brings to life an era where puritanical maxims and power tussles regulate the entertainment scene, the glorious days of William Shakespeare. Hemings and Condell, with a befitting production design, can be an engaging drama that will enthral the viewer with visuals of an era when Shakespeare performed in the Globe theatre alongside the other players and fought through the battles of life like any other entertainer of the time. A treat for lovers of historical dramas, the screenplay does not dilute the suspense, even though the story narrated is a true representation of historical facts and events. Keady re-tells his story with a magic touch, elevating it out of the history books and into the realm of a historical thriller.
‘Hemings and Condell’ shines a light on how easy it is for history to be highjacked when left in the hands of others. If Hemings and Condell had not gone persisted in their endeavour to set the record straight, the greatness of William Shakespeare could very well have been nothing more than a footnote. As Hemmings Says ‘What are a few years compared with immortality.’