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Shakespeare In Love Theatre Royal Bath Review 9th October 2018

Shakespeare In Love Theatre Royal Bath Review 9th October 2018
Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay of the film by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, and adapted for the stage by Lee Hall, is all at once a comedy, a tragedy and a rollicking good story, much like the real Mr Shakespeare’s work. There’s a preposterous plot, Will Shakespeare is writing a comedy called Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s daughter; he has writer’s block and needs a muse which he finds in the beautiful form of a wealthy merchant’s daughter, Viola, who wouldn’t you know it, yearns to take to the stage and naturally has to disguise herself as a boy to do it.

The play is beautifully crafted and captures exactly the mood of the century that produced the fledgling theatre business with all its mystery and takes a colourful look behind the scenes; you are tempted to believe that maybe this is the real story of William Shakespeare.

Pierro Niel-Mee plays Shakespeare, earnest and passionate about his art; the play begins as he tries to compose “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” with the company of players grouped around him willing him to come up with an immortal line. Imogen Daines is perfectly cast as Viola, his inspiration and eventual love; there’s a good chemistry between them and the parallels with Romeo and Juliet are evident.
Shakespeare In Love Theatre Royal Bath Review 9th October 2018 

Ian Hughes plays Henslowe the theatre owner, trying desperately to keep his show together despite being roasted over hot coals by Fennyman (Rob Edwards), the financial backer, for his unpaid debts. Edmund Kingsley plays Kit Marlowe, Shakespeare’s playwright rival with suave insouciance and a hint of a sneer (which I’m sure the real Kit Marlowe had!) and there’s a good comic performance from Jazmine Wilkinson as the young John Webster.

Rowan Polonski camps it up tremendously as Ned Alleyn providing much laughter – his fight scenes are excellent – and Geraldine Alexander gives a wonderful performance as Queen Elizabeth, imperious and sticking her nose into all matters of her subjects’ lives as monarchs were wont to do in those days.

Bill Ward is malevolent and evil tyrant in the shape of Lord Wessex, Viola’s intended husband who regards her as a cash purchase, with Giles Taylor slipping with ease between the dual roles of Sir Robert, Viola’s father and Tilney, Master of the Revels.

I enjoyed this hugely, maybe if you’re not familiar with the works of the Bard some of the humour would be lost, but coupled with the musical content which is harmoniously done and the first class performances I think this has something for everyone.

Jacquie Vowles

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