"A groundbreaking and utterly fascinating study that transports us from shipboard performances of Hamlet off the coast of Africa in 1607, to future American president U. S. Grant playing Desdemona in 1845, to a staging of The Merchant of Venice by British prisoners of war at Stalag 383. Nobody understands the history of Shakespeare in performance - or how deeply four centuries of amateur productions have shaped our culture - better than Michael Dobson."
James Shapiro, Columbia University, author of 1599
"... [a] generous and fascinating study ... Dobson continually reminds us that Shakespeare, far from being a stable ontological entity, is almost unrecognisably different in different contexts."
Andrew Dickson, Guardian
"Never patronising, Dobson writes movingly and wittily, stressing the slipperiness of the category of "amateur" ... He offers a fascinating alternative history of Shakespeare, arguing that "in the era of YouTube ... the long history of amateur Shakespeare" is "an important theatrical instance of user-created content" ... Dobson's is a loving book, not in the obsequious manner of professional Bardolators, but in a way Nick Bottom the weaver would understand: "A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.""
Willy Maley, Times Higher Education
"Michael Dobson has opened the lid of a treasure chest of gems. I suspect that many of us have underrated both the omnipresence and the historical significance of "amateur performance". But now, thanks to Dobson, I'm freshly aware of many activities that I'd overlooked, failing to connect them either with each other or with wider historical phenomena."
Katherine Duncan-Jones, Literary Review
"... stakes out a new and rich area of study, ranging from performances in aristocratic families to those by expatriates and prisoners of war, and examining outdoor and site specific performances."
Studies in English Literature
"This is indeed a groundbreaking monograph, which effectively ushers in a new field of research on amateur stagings, making up for its marginalization in academic studies."
Rosy Colombo, Memori Di Shakespeare