Reviewed by Nigel Chester
The play, Shakespeare in Love, is a brilliant fictional, romantic, comedy drama, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard and adapted for stage by Lee Hall.
We were lucky enough to see this adaptation at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, which is a fantastic venue with easy car parking, on street and at the nearby Crowne Plaza, and within a step of the tram stop.
I did wonder how such an iconic film, nominated for thirteen Oscars and winner of seven, could be brought to the stage.
I need not have worried, it was brilliant; every scene was perfect.
The story is simple, a playwright with writer’s block and a great need for money, finds his inspiration in the form of Lady Viola de Lessops (Imogen Daines), who dresses as a boy to play on the Elizabethan stage; her alter ego is Thomas Kent, a fabulous actor, who helps Shakespeare to find his mojo again.
There are so many superbly crafted moments, single lines that allude to Shakespeare’s other works ‘Be gone damned spot’, made everyone laugh – well, who doesn’t like a play with a dog in it, and our dog had a starring role.
The staging and production was amazing, there was a turntable which allowed the huge wooden platform to be moved through 360 degrees. This allowed us to take the view point of the audience or to be behind the scenes, a unique perspective.
During the play, the background music was often performed by the cast, playing Cello, Lute and Viola, to name but a few. This, accompanied by the company singing, made the evening’s entertainment magical.
Our play continued, with William Shakespeare (Pierro Niel-Mee) falling in love with viola, who is betrothed to the lecherous and altruistic Lord Wessex (Bill Ward), who gets his come-uppance in a laundry basket.
Every person played a full and rounded role, all gave us the opportunity to laugh, none more so than the ten year old boy, Jack Webster (JazmineWilkinson), who’s role was minor, but was instrumental in moving the plot along (Queen – we’ll see more of you later)
Everything was first class in this production of Shakespeare in Love, and the Production Manager, Mark Carey, for Venture Events Ltd should be justifiably proud of his work.
The stage fight scenes were great (Renny Krupinski) but the slap was a perfectly satisfying moment.
Using one of Shakespeare’s own literary devices, there was a play within a play – it was genius.
The audience needed no knowledge of Shakespeare or the film, to enjoy this production fully.
The applause at the conclusion was well deserved and it was obvious that everyone had enjoyed this every bit as much as we had.
It was fun, it was sad, and it was brilliant.
Tickets cost from £20 to £38.50 (booking fees may apply).
Shakespeare in Love is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 16-20 October 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND