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William Shakespeare, without saying a word, gives a quick run through of all his plays in a very special audition.


Barry Purves (as Barry J.C. Purves)


William Shakespeare (plays), Barry Purves (as Barry J.C. Purves)
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Complete credited cast:
Barry Purves Barry Purves ... Will, a poor player (voice) (as Barry J.C. Purves)
Roger Rees ... Peter, a Producer (voice)


Will, a poor player who bears an uncanny resemblance to Shakespeare, auditions on stage in front of Peter, a busy producer with his nose in the trade papers, hardly noticing Will's extraordinary performance. Will, using the prop of a life-sized doll and changing costumes with magical speed, acts out brief scenes at the heart of Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, As You Like It, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, Titus Andronicus, Merry Wives, the Tempest, the Winter's Tale, and other of the Bard's plays. It's an infinite variety show, and finally Peter's attention is on Will. What will the producer say when Will finishes? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Infinite Variety Show.


Animation | Short



Official Sites:

Aardman Animations





Release Date:

17 December 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Next: The Infinite Variety Show See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


The "sunburst" which rotates behind Shakespeare in the "Cymbeline" sequence was not present in the original storyboard nor fabricated for this purpose. Rather, it comes from a clock which was discovered by the director, by chance, in a skip nearby the studio on the day that scene was to be filmed. See more »


During the "Cymbeline" sequence, one of the golden eagle's wings gets accidentally caught on the rotating sunburst. See more »

Crazy Credits

"Peter the Director" looks exactly like Peter Hall and, naturally is reading one of Hall's books. The halo means that he's St. Peter, and that Shakespeare has been auditioning to get into Heaven. The plays Shakespeare runs through: 1) HENRY V - "Wooden O" (I.prologue) and "brave fleet with silken streamers" (III.prologue); 2) Julius Caesar ("Et tu"); 3) Antony and Cleopatra; 4) Coriolanus (V.iii. Volumnia kneeling to her son to save Rome); 5) Henry VIII; 6) Romeo and Juliet; 7) Henry IVs (part 2, V.i.); 8) Richard II "[Dashes the glass upon the ground]" (IV.i); 9) Henry VIs (Joan of Arc and the red and white roses); 10) Richard III (the little princes); 11) Troilus and Cressida (Achilles: "Come tie his body to my horse's tail,/Along the field I will the Troyan trail." V.viii); 12) A Midsummer Night's Dream; 13) Hamlet; 14) Othello; 15) Titus Andronicus ("..there they are, both baked in this pie;/Whereof their moth daintily hath fed..." V.iii); 16) The Tempest; 17) As You Like It; 18) Macbeth; 19) All's Well That Ends Well ("When thou canst get the ring upon my finger...and show me a child beggoten of thy body...then call me husband..." III.ii); 20) Taming of the Shrew; 21) Much Ado About Nothing; 22) Merry Wives of Windsor (V.v); 23) The Merchant of Venice (III.ii) 24) King John ("The wall is high, and yet will I leap down..." IV.iii); 25) Love's Labour's Lost; 26) Pericles (III.ii); 27) Lear; 28) Comedy of Errors; 29) Two Gentlemen of Verona; 30) Twelfth Night; 31)Timon of Athens; 32) Winter's Tale ("[Exit pursued by a bear.]"III.iii); 33) Measure for Measure; 34) Cymbeline "[Jupiter descends in thunder and lightening, sitting upon an eagle...]" V.iv). See more »


Featured in Animated Century (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Entertaining Way Of Summing Up Shakespeare in 5 minutes
10 January 2011 | by WakenPayneSee all my reviews

As Far As Ardman Animations Go I Prefer "Pib & Pog" But Take NOTHING Away From This, This Is A Highly Entertaining Short...Even For People Who Didn't Like Shakespeare. The Main Idea Of The Film Is That William Performs All His Plays Within 5 Minutes To An (At Times) Annoying Guy Saying The Only Line In The Movie..."NEXT!". Turns Out That That Guy Is St. Peter. The Music Is Very Good And Fitting For What Is Going On The Screen As Is The Animation (1989... WOW This Is Fantastic For It's Time). So I Would Recommend For Those People That Want To See Shakespeare In 5 Minutes.

"Lord What Fools These Mortals Be?"

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