John Bell fell in love with Shakespeare’s dazzling theatrical language when he was 15. Now 80, the eminent actor can look back over a high-flying 60-year career, which has seen him work for companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Bell Shakespeare, of which he was the founding Artistic Director.

During that time he has played around 20 leading Shakespearean roles and directed a similar number of plays. Shakespeare’s writing has, he says, become his secular Bible, his book to live by.

John Bell in One Man In His Time. Photograph © Brett Boardman

Bell draws on that passion in his new solo show One Man In His Time: John Bell and Shakespeare, presented by Bell Shakespeare. Originally scheduled last year, it had to be postponed. Instead he recorded a section of it for Sydney Opera House’s digital From Our House to Yours platform. Now he performs the full show live.

Describing it as “a meditative piece about Shakespeare”, Bell says he decided to focus on The Bard’s “compassion, empathy, shrewd understanding of politics and power structures, his earthy humour, and of course...