“A love letter to theatre...”
Ah lads, I’m in love! And so is Shakespeare it seems!
I went to the Shakespeare in Love press night, having seen it only a week before too, and fell head over heels. I booked the first visit with ‘the gals’ as soon as tickets came on sale when I didn't know I'd be going to the press night too. So lucky me, I’ve seen it twice and it is BRILLIANT.
When word got out that Shakespeare in Love was going to be made into a play it just seemed to make total sense, of course it should be on the stage! The play is sitting prettily at the Noel Coward on St Martin’s Lane and I can tell you, it is just lovely. Completely lovely. If you’re a fan of the film – go see the show. If you’ve not seen the film – go see the show, then borrow someone’s dvd and relive all your fave bits.
Shakespeare is played by the wonderfully hunky Tom Bateman – please see evidence of hunkiness here. Very different to Joseph Fiennes who played the role in the film, Tom is a more manly and strong Shakespeare who doesn't wither under his writer’s block but instead knows he must find inspiration in love. His relationship with Kit Marlow (played by David Oakes who you may know from the BBC’s The White Queen) is a great development from the film, there's a lovely sense of true friendship and comradery.
Lucy Briggs-Owen plays the theatre loving Viola and is perfect for the role. The passion she has for Shakespeare’s writing is so earnest and, from one theatre-obsessive to another, is so brilliantly conceivable. Shakespeare and Viola are both struck with a sudden and all-consuming, needless to say forbidden, love and I found it all completely believable. The chemistry between these two is palpable and you can feel it even in the back row of the balcony.
THERE IS A DOG. Yes, a dog. As we all learnt from the film – everyone loves a bit with a dog. And this new West End powerhouse is no exception. The big fluffball, an Irish wolfhound named Spot, bounds on stage and steals the show. Also, keep an eye out for him at the curtain call...!
But it’s not just the canine cameo that makes this show great. The set, designed by Nick Ormerod, is the inside of a beautiful wooden three tiered Elizabethan playhouse with a central section that glides forward and back, transforming the space and bringing the audience 'backstage'. The ensemble watch the scenes they're not involved in from the balconies, creating theatre within a theatre, within a theatre...within.. You get the gist.
There are also constant nods to the bard, famous lines are dotted here and there, and thrown into conversation. The audience titters in quiet recognition. It's moments like this that make this show a love letter to theatre.
The after party...
Was brilliant. It took place in the stunning Southwark Cathedral as there is a window and statue that commemorates Shakespeare, and his brother Edmund was also buried there. We were greeted by flaming torches, champers and canapes. My sister pondered whether we'd get 'Shakespearean food' but luckily there was lots of smoked salmon, goats cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes and tiny bowls of cheesy risotto. I had a totally brill time and loved spotting the cast in their party frocks. I didn't get many photos as it's wasn't really the place to get snap-happy in!
Stonking. Simply stonking. The critics loved it.
"It’s got the lot – a stirring love story, a prodigious succession of terrific jokes - and it sends up the theatre something rotten while simultaneously delighting in it."
"This is the best British comedy since One Man, Two Guvnors and deserves equal success."
"A joyous celebration of theatre itself."
"A swooning delight. Terrific."