If Patrick Page trod the boards during the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare would have written a villainous role to fit his deep, velvety voice. Page’s penchant for the wicked roars in All the Devils Are Here, his 85-minute Off-Broadway play chronicling Shakespeare’s infamous villains, from Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus to Prospero in The Tempest.
All the Devils Are Here, directed by Simon Godwin, showcases chilling monologues from Shakespeare’s oeuvre. In between, Page also shares his own approach to playing villains and getting into the mindset of psychopaths. And with that voice, honey-rich and valley-deep, he’s portrayed his fair share of them.
On Broadway, Page bellowed as Hades, the god of the underworld in Hadestown, and as the supervillain Green Goblin in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. He’s a preeminent Shakespearean actor, gaining accolades for his portrayals of Iago, Claudius, and King Lear at leading classical theatres across the country.
Audiences at All the Devils Are Here experience Page’s highlight reel of these career-making roles. His portrayal of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice silenced my audience; a single tear slowly rolled down his cheek during the famous speech. In a hair-raising scene, he plays both Iago and Othello, moving his body and slightly pitching his voice to spar with himself. Armed with a knife, he plods around the stage in a harrowing portrayal of Macbeth. And as Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Page clicks his heels and brings humor to the malevolent character.
But perhaps the best character on stage in All the Devils Are Here is Page himself. Page’s natural register is not a growl like his many characters would have you believe — and his temperament is far from evil. He’s absolutely delightful and interjects the play with jokes, Elizabethan gossip (like Shakespeare’s romantic entanglements and his rivalry with fellow writer Christopher Marlowe), and personal anecdotes.
On the evening I saw the show, Page had a cane featuring a lion head as he recovers from an onstage injury. Page blamed the incident on the curse of the Scottish play and sweetly reminisced about his high school girlfriend who gifted him the cane, a replica of one on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.
In addition to the cane, Page brings the characters to life with costume pieces (Emily Rebholz) and props, like dog tags for war veteran Macbeth, a yarmulke for Shylock, and an ascot and wax-sealed letter for Malvolio. Lighting (Stacey Derosier) and sound (Darron L. West) further dramatize the scenes. When Page depicts Prospero, a tempest booms and crackles in the 99-seat theatre.
You don’t have to be a Shakespeare scholar to appreciate Page’s crash course on the history of the villain. He sets the scenes up perfectly and even shares how contemporary TV shows, like Succession and The Simpsons, draw from Shakespeare’s body of work.
It’s easy to forget how indebted we are to Shakespeare for the stories we consume every day. We love to hate the members of Succession‘s Roy family but may overlook the fact that their power, greed, and vicious sibling rivalry is rooted in King Lear and his children. Or we may not realize that the fratricidal impulses of Scar in The Lion King are directly related to those of Claudius in Hamlet. The list goes on.