Review of Shakespeare in Love by Stamford Shoestring at Stamford Arts Centre
If you like the idea of Shakespeare - but struggle with the real McCoy (or Macbeth) - then Shoestring’s latest production should appeal.
The Stamford Arts Centre-based theatre group is performing Shakespeare in Love, a film box office success back in 1998, and a timeless comedy still.
Set in 1593, when Shakespeare was scratching a living as a relatively unknown playwright, the plot tells of how Romeo and Juliet might have been written - with a little help from his more successful contemporary, Kit Marlowe - and how Shakespeare fell for the female actor playing Romeo.
Acting out this story - plus scenes from Romeo and Juliet, the ‘play within the play’ - allows Shoestring to field a large cast, with 26 people on stage, several playing multiple roles.
Jeremy Goldthorp makes Shakespeare a sympathetic character, and his love-match with ‘Romeo’ - Ellie Corrigan - is thoroughly plausible.
Other parts offer greater comic value, including the eloquent Kit Marlowe, who is played with sass by Matthew Robertson, and Phil Drury-Lewis’s Lord Wessex, who manages to combine elements of Blackadder’s Lord Percy and Lord Flashheart.
Meanwhile, Alex Woods as Burbage and Matt Norris as Alleyn rival one another for Brian Blessed-style presence and humour.
Performances are generally strong at Shoestring, and the amateur actors upheld this with word-perfect deliveries and smooth set changes. It was especially pleasing to see more experienced cast members sharing the stage with young local actors.
Costumes - and there were many - clearly took hours of work and ensured what was happening on stage looked bright and appealing, particularly dazzling as actors took their ‘final bow’ with an unusual and well-choreographed piece that those going along will have to discover for themselves.
And, despite pre-opening night fears that spaniel Matilda might steal the show, while she was delightful in her short role on stage, she certainly wasn’t the main talking point once the curtain fell.
Shakespeare in Love offers a fun night out and supports local theatre - far better than watching a rerun of the film on the telly.
Book tickets by phoning Stamford Arts Centre on 01780 763 203 or visiting www.stamfordartscentre.com.
Performances began last night and continue at 7.45pm tonight (Wednesday, December 6) through to Saturday (December 9) or from Thursday, December 14 to Saturday, December 16.
Have you seen Shoestring’s version of Shakespeare in Love? Share your thoughts in the comments below.