Culture Buff

Shakespeare in Love

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

For centuries plays have been derived from novels, myths and legends but only recently have we become used to plays being sourced from films.

A recent notable example is Shakespeare in Love, adapted for the stage from the screenplay of the 1998 Oscar-winning film. It is now being produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company (from 19 July to 14 August then Canberra 22-31 August).

This utterly delightful romantic comedy probably has found its true home on the stage.

After all, it is about theatre and the putting on of plays with a screenplay by Sir Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman; the adaptation is by Les Hall who wrote Billy Elliot.

Shakespeare in Love, the play, premiered in London in July 2014 to critical acclaim; it was revived last year to further success. Set in 1593, it concerns young Will Shakespeare struggling with writer’s block over the script for Romeo & Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter.

His writer’s block is cured when he meets Viola De Lesseps and falls in love. There are two problems: she is already engaged to a nobleman and she leads a secret life: dressing as a boy so she can work as an actor.

This is at least as improbable as the plot of many of Shakespeare’s own plays, but it is fun, it is charming and it is sexy.

Simon Phillips is directing a big cast in a big glamorous production. There are cameo appearances by Queen Elizabeth I and a dog called Spot.

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