Confused? You won't be if you go to see Shakespeare in Love as despite the Shakespearean references and in-jokes, the typically Shakespearean comedy mishaps, misunderstandingd and misdirection, it is easy to folow the simple plot line of star corssed lovers (apologies, I couldn't help myself!), destined for the inevitable time when they cannot be together. It was like a Shakespearean comedy and tradgey rolled into one!
The tage is et out like a theatre of the period with several tiers and a sliding central section to deliniate between inside and outside scenes, as well as on stage and behind stage scenes. Even when, as an audience, you are seeing the benhind the satge scenes, you are still bale to clealely hear those acting on the stage, by which I mean the back of the stage, with their backs to the audeince.
Scene changes were swiftly done with all cast members involved, as would've been teh case in a Shakespeare play of the period. Linking with this idea, props were minimal and multifunctional and used very well.
The onstage musicians, playing authentic instruments and singing where needed, did an outstanding job. I don't know which of the men had the distinctive high voice, but it blew me away with its clarity and precision.
Finally onto the acting cast, and what a cast it was. Many of them have either trained or acted in Royal Shapespeare Company productions, giving their preformances a great deal of authenticity, enabling the style and attitude of the play was acted to its truest potential.
Tom Bateman playing Shakespeare and Luct Briggs Owen playing his love interest Viola De Lesseps, worked so well together, the chemistry was at times palpable.
Alistair Petrie as Wessex played the villan of the piece with great aplomb, as did Paul Chahidi as Henslowe, the bumbling fool of a theatre owner with his exquisite comedy timing. Another favourite character of mine was Abigail McKern as the nurse.
But the star of the show, as usually happens, has to be the dog who, not unlike the RSC dog I saw in Two Gentlemen of Verona earlie this year, stole the show and audience's hearts.
Shakespeare in Love the play is showing at the Noël Coward Theatre in London and is surrently booking until mid-April 2015.