‘Shakespeare in Love’ is theatrical.
Most people are familiar with Shakespeare’s works. From high school analysis, countless theatrical adaptions, and Hollywood-inspired works, Shakespeare has left a profound legacy on the arts. But something just as compelling as his literature is the ethos of the Bard himself. We get to see a glimpse of this in Beenleigh Theatre Group’s new production, ‘Shakespeare in Love’.
‘Shakespeare in Love’ looks into the Bard’s drive for creativity as he is in desperate need to satisfy his cutthroat backers and himself with a new play. Stuck in a frantic corner, Shakespeare begins writing a comedy about Romeo and a pirate girl named Ethel. It seems to be a dire journey – until he meets a Viola De Lesseps, who is smitten with poetry – more importantly, his poetry. Shakespeare is inspired by his love, and together, he and Viola forge forward to create a moving, honest depiction of true love for Queen Elizabeth I.
Directing a play within a play can be a difficult task, but director Michael Ware pulls off the task superbly. Ware’s fast-paced, sweetly romantic, light-hearted comedy and subtly heartbreaking direction kept the audience enthralled throughout. Set Design, also by Michael Ware, was striking. With basic, bare staging and colours, it really made you feel like all the worlds a stage. Musical direction by Nicholas Hargreaves evoked much joy and struggle within the piece, allowing the story to have much more of an impact. Lighting and Sound by Christopher Art enhanced the production. From the beautiful use of multimedia to display some of Bard’s famous lines to the use of colour to set each scene’s tone to the joyous and heartbreaking music, all were masterstrokes for the play. Special mention also goes to the fight choreographer, Lachlan Bretherton Scobie, for creating fluent and realistic fight scenes. Wardrobe by Trinette Avery focused on generic clothing for some, with some exceptional flare and colours for others, particularly the Queen.
Capturing the mystic and swagger of the Bard was Nicholas Hargreaves. His boyish charm, maddening creativity, and vulnerable affection drove the show. Hannah Martin as Voila De Lesseps and Thomas Kent endeared the audience while being the muse for Shakespeare. Martin’s wholesome and passionate performance captured the audience. Together, the chemistry between Hargreaves and Martin was undeniable and had the audience.
Kit Marlowe, played by Harrison Port, cheekily portrayed Marlowe. Port’s comedic timing and free-flowing energy were flawless. Lord Wessex repulsed the audience with a cleverly vile and cold villain. Rachel Hunt delivered a spellbinding showing as Queen Elizabeth I. Hunt’s body language and facial expressions told a gripping tale. Richard Burbage and Boatman were humorously taken on by Bradley Chapman. With tight comedic timing and masterful use of voice, particularly in his monologue.
Each of the remaining ensemble performed effortlessly in their parts. Not one role felt out of place.
Which is a huge accomplishment in a historical drama about one of the most famous writers ever.
With this production, Beenleigh Theatre Group have explored that which inspires creativity and love. It leaves a lasting impression, just like the Bard – and for that, it makes this play wonderful.
‘Shakespeare in Love’ performs until February 24, 2024 at Crete Street Theatre. For more information visit their website.