Shakespeare in Love: Tom Stoppard

Shakespeare in Love

★★★★★

(Noël Coward Theatre, London, 16 July 2014)

For the feel-good romantic comedy hit of the summer, head down to the Noël Coward Theatre on St Martin’s Lane in London, where the stage production of Shakespeare in Love has just opened for previews. It’s only been running for a few days but a friend and I went along to see it tonight and it is genuinely one of the most delightful plays I’ve ever seen. At the end we tumbled out in the London night so stuffed full of joy that we were fit to burst: comedy, love, and a bit with a dog. What more could you desire?

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Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare

★★★★½

(Apollo Theatre, London, playing in rep with Richard III until 9 February 2013)

I should, of course, have seen these plays the other way round: Twelfth Night in early January and then Richard III last night, spiced with the news that the skeleton found beneath a car park in Leicester is (almost certainly) that of the king. Anyway, it was a joy to return to the Apollo for my second encounter with the Globe company in their winter quarters. Once again I hung over the balcony watching the actors milling around as they were dressed, watching doublets and hose tugged on, bodices laced up, lead-white paint and rouge applied to faces. Even without their wigs, the actors gained a feminine elegance as soon as they were into their skirts; and I watched Mark Rylance’s hands fluttering convulsively as he was laced up, as if trying physically to shake himself into his role.

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Richard III: William Shakespeare

Richard III: William Shakespeare

★★★½

(Apollo Theatre, London, playing in rep with Twelfth Night until 10 February 2013)

After garnering rave reviews at the Globe over the summer, this company has moved to winter quarters at the Apollo. A beautiful wooden set recalls the Globe’s stage while also suggesting the feel of an indoor Jacobean theatre: two arched doorways at the back of the stage are surmounted by a musicians’ balcony and on either side are two tiers of wooden seating. It’s a taste of what the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is going to look like.

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