Bingo, subtitled Scenes of Money and Death, uses the last days of a brooding and unheroic William Shakespeare to accuse art and capitalism of vile inhumanity.
Historical evidence suggests that not long before his death Shakespeare agreed to the enclosure of common land near Stratford, which was beneficial to landowners such as Shakespeare, but disastrous for small tenants and the parish’s poor. For Bond this incident is laced with damning echoes of King Lear’s injustices, and motivates his portrayal of the writer as a bourgeois and apolitical capitalist, more occupied with his profits and rents than with the distress of those who depended on the land.
The Shakespeare of Bingo is no national treasure; fretful, impassive and guilty, he is moved to splintered eloquence by the plight of a baited bear and a hanged vagrant woman, but is too slow to see the inhumanity and cruelty of his own position.
Bingo is a thorny cry against exploitation and passivity, and an original and coldly compelling portrait of the revered writer. It was first performed in 1973 at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter.