Re­view: Shake­speare in Love

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - By Elise Brit­ten

Shake­speare in Love Bath The­atre Royal

There are some sto­ries I adore so much that you could do nearly any­thing to them and I will still en­joy my­self. Shake­speare in Love is not among th­ese. Ap­proach­ing the pro­duc­tion cur­rently on stage at the The­atre Royal, Bath it could have gone ei­ther way. Add to this that I had dragged a friend quite out of her way to see it, the well-versed cast were not go­ing to be given an easy ride. There was an ex­cru­ci­at­ing mo­ment when the open­ing skit dragged on too long in front of a si­lent au­di­ence. I can only imag­ine how much worse it must feel on stage try­ing to break the ice. But to my great relief we didn’t have to wait too long for the laughs to start rolling in and from there the pace built up to a rol­lick­ing ride that left you feel­ing buoy­ant and want­ing more. I en­joyed the good mix of slap­stick hu­mour along­side the more witty word play you would ex­pect from a Shake­speare-es­que play. The full tal­ents of the cast were put to good use with the creative trans­for­ma­tion of a small set, on stage play­ing of in­stru­ments, splen­did cho­ruses and even an Ir­ish jig! No mem­ber of the cast let the team down. But Pierro Niel-mee made a par­tic­u­larly con­vinc­ing strug­gling play­wright, while Bill Ward as Lord Wes­sex, the un­wanted suitor, was ev­ery part the vil­lain. And although Judi Dench is an im­pos­si­ble act to fol­low, Geral­dine Alexan­der gave it a darn good go as Queen El­iz­a­beth. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of a much-loved film puts pres­sure on a per­for­mance, but I can hon­estly say this adap­ta­tion by Lee Hall added a new di­men­sion and would be en­joyed by both those who have or haven’t seen the movie. Although there are some more se­ri­ous mo­ments in the play, the story the pro­duc­ers were work­ing with was never go­ing to be par­tic­u­larly pro­found. But if you’re look­ing for the per­fect an­ti­dote for a bad day at work, you can’t go past it. Ex­pect to have a jolly good time and to be kept on your toes – a cast mem­ber may just pop up be­side you. As for the The­atre Royal – it is a joy in it­self. The old world grandeur of the the­atre be­lies its mod­est size. It is par­tic­u­larly cosy and com­fort­ing from the mo­ment you en­ter. Dur­ing your visit, climb down into The Vaults. Sadly I didn’t have the chance to sam­ple the food menu, but it was a won­der­fully am­bi­ent place to en­joy a drink, with muted light­ing un­der ex­posed stone arches.

Shake­speare in Love runs at the The­atre Royal, Bath, un­til Satur­day with evening and mati­nee per­for­mances. Prices from £22, visit the­atreroyal.org.uk

Pic­ture: Pete Le May

Pierro Niel-mee as Will Shake­speare and Imo­gen Daines as Vi­ola de Lesseps and left, Will Shake­speare (seated) with the com­pany

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