« Shall I compare… Something, something, something. »
The famous Sonnet 18 is far from written when the play begins, and Shakespeare isn’t quite at his best, to put it mildly. It doesn’t take 10 seconds for the audience to burst out laughing.
The best word I can find to describe Lee Hall’s adaptation is « invigorating ». Forget about work, the lack of sleep, or anything that might be weighing on you ; it will all be chased away by the incredible energy of the cast, the magnificence of the costumes, and the talent of the musicians.
The love between Will Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps is sweet, strong, a bit naive and profoundly amusing. Sure to remind some of us of our first brave, shy and a bit ridiculous approaches with a delighting cheerfulness.
The friendship between Shakespeare and Marlowe, the way Will both envies Kit’s success and needs his help explores the legend of these two renowned poets and their mysterious histories. The play takes us in a world of men, ruled by a Queen. Where a woman has the right to marry, and nothing else. Where actors and poets are nothing but a business product. History and reality closely entangled with a good dose of humor.
As for the cast himself, I wouldn’t know where to start. With Tom Bateman’s ease to dance through Shakespeare’s emotions ? With Lucy Briggs-Owen’s (Viola) laugh and passion ? With David Oakes’ (Marlowe) witty lines and amused grin who made someone in the audience screaming « What ?! » at the announcement of his death (having everybody laughing for 5 good minutes in the middle of a tragic scene)? Or perhaps with Colin Ryan’s constant hilarious presence, or Doug Rao’s great arrogance as Ned Alleyn.
Or I could tell you about the riddicule Mr Henslowe played by the great Paul Chahidi. Or about the Queen, or the nurse, or Alistair Petrie, or…
Well, I could probably go on like that for quite some time. Here’s what you really need to know about Shakespeare In Love the play : it’s a brilliant comedy, with love, sword fighting, Shakespeare, Marlowe and, most importantly, a bit with a dog…