Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love
Adapted from the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard by Lee Hall. Melbourne Theatre Company. Directed by Simon Phillips. Canberra Theatre. 22–31 August 2019.

The young Will Shakespeare is in trouble.  The Queen has commissioned a comedy.  But Will is so bogged down in his script for Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter that it is veering dangerously close to tragical farce. Will owes money, and his rivals are using his recent works without permission and with no more than a promise of payment.

 

And that’s even before the girl of his dreams arrives to upset his concentration and give the Bailiff the excuse he wants to shut down Will’s theatre.

 

Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Lee Hall’s near-perfect adaptation of the 1998 film was as near perfect a production as possible, with uniformly superb entrances and exits; communicative facial giveaways and mannerisms; well-timed dialogue; and consistently skilful singing and dancing.  Its immaculate acting fully warranted the authentic-sounding lively music, the clever set design (full of surprises and lit to perfection), and the evidently stickling attention to the 80 or so costumes for the cast of just 15 (playing 29 or 30 characters).  Even the live music, a minor component of the play, was impeccable.

 

If you’d like a chance to repair a hole in your classical education through a tragically rapid evening’s comedic entertainment, this is it.  Travel on horseback if necessary; this one will be hard to beat.

 

John P. Harvey

 

Photographer: Jeff Busby

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