Thursday, 24 July 2014

'Shakespeare in Love' Noel Coward Theatre ****

One of the most anticipated plays for 2014 has officially premièred in the West End, and it's Lee Hall's stage adaptation of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's film, ‘Shakespeare in Love’. One found that the play celebrated the phenomenal world of theatre and the complications that Britain's leading playwright, William Shakespeare faced in writing his romantic tragedy, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. In addition, the performance conveyed the relationship that was that formed between the Bard and the well-respected lady Viola De Lesseps, and a society where royalty appreciated the dramatic arts. For me, I have always become apprehensive about the reworking of films for the stage. However, Hall’s script works productively well and it appears that the concept of rehearsing for productions, as well as the troubles of writers’ block seems correct and alluring for a theatrical piece of work. The production, understandably takes place in Elizabethan London, 1593, where William Shakespeare is sat, despairingly at his desk who cannot seek any inspiration in writing his latest play. He asks his closest friend, Christopher Marlowe, another playwright to aid him in devising a play that combines the emotions of laughter and tears and one that can engage an audience of uneducated people. The narrative, written so stylised by Hall welcomes us into witnessing the rehearsal process, which generally does not appear on stage, and allows us to question why women were not permitted to act on stage, or any such employment whatsoever. The dialogue is absorbing too as it enables you to fully encapsulate with the productions circumstances; such as the romantic elements that occur between Shakespeare and Viola. The performances by the company of ‘Shakespeare in Love’ were exceptionally convincing throughout and a real testament to the electrifying world of theatre making. Tom Bateman's portrayal of the Bard, William Shakespeare was sublime, in particular when he becomes besotted by Viola’s beauty and his emotional capability in the sonnets were vastly tender. Lucy Briggs Owen is outstanding as Will's love interest, Viola. The transformation from female to male, when she attempts to perform was exceptionally delivered and remarkably fluid. David Oakes is marvellous as Will’s closest friend, Christopher Marlowe, especially when he vocally projects, angelically in supporting Will within the finale. The direction by Declan Donnellan was miraculous, as he has captured the atmosphere of Elizabethan London, and the staging on the Noel Coward stage worked extraordinarily well. Nick Ormerod’s scenic and costume design is excellent as the world of Shakespeare’s creativity has been presented to a high standard indeed. Overall, 'Shakespeare in Love' is a well-rounded play, and one must admit that after considerable observations over the course of two years, adaptations from films to theatre plays and musicals are worth its place in the industry.

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