Previewed 2 July 2014, Opened 23 July 2014, Closed: 18 April 2015 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
The eagerly awaited stage premiere of Shakespeare in Love in London, adapted from the Oscar-winning film by Lee Hall and directed by Declan Donnellan.
Plagued by debt, promising young playwright Will Shakespeare is tormented by writerís block until he finds his muse in the form of passionate noblewoman, Viola De Lesseps. Their forbidden love draws many others, including Queen Elizabeth, into the drama and inspires Will to write the greatest love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet. This sweeping romantic comedy promises to transport you back to Shakespeare's London, teeming with vibrant colours, characters, music and life. "I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all"
Please note that this stage production is recommended for children over the age of 12. The production contains a brief glimpse of nudity. This stage production has been adapted from the Oscar-winning screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard by Lee Hall. This production is directed by Declan Donnellan and designed by Nick Ormerod. Lee Hall's West End writing credits include Billy Elliot the Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre 2005) and The Pitmen Painters (Duchess Theatre 2011). Declan Donnellan's London directing credits include Martin Guerre (Prince Edward Theatre 1996).
When this production opened at the Noel Coward Theatre in July 2014, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail hailed it as being "a swooning, skittish delight, all the merrier for containing no top-flight stars." Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote that "Lee Hall's new version is a love letter to theatre itself, and one that celebrates the way magic and mystery are born out of chaos and confusion... for the most part, the play manages to be witty and warm-hearted at the same time... this is a play that stands on its own two feet as a heady celebration of the act of theatre." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times said that "in Declan Donnellanís witty, rumbustious and largely enjoyable production, it becomes a touching comedy and a mischievous love letter to theatre." Paul Taylor in the Independent praised it as being a "joyous stage adaptation of the Oscar-laden 1997 movie... that is filled with moments of sheer stage poetry as well as good-natured, effervescent fun." Neil Norman in the Daily Express commented that "rarely has a film sat more happily on the stage than Lee Hall's theatre adaptation of John Madden's multi OscarĖwinning movie. If anything the stage version is even better as it not only enhances Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's original screenplay but allows the piece to breathe the air of a more fitting environment... the large cast plunges headlong into the piece with barnstorming enthusiasm. Declan Donnellan directs with panache, bringing the stage alive with theatricality.... an absolute joy from beginning to end." Kate Bassett in the Times described how "most West End versions of big-screen hits seem like a dispiriting waste of time. As a rule, they make the theatre look like a poor cousin of film. There are, however, exceptions and Shakespeare in Love is a triumphant case in point, newly adapted by Lee Hall from Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's original script. I positively prefer the director Declan Donnellan's vibrant and ingeniously fluid production at the NoŽl Coward to the film, which was a mite saccharine," adding that "Donnellan's production embraces theatrical playfulness wholeheartedly... highly recommended." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "Lee Hall's adaptation preserves the wit of the original screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman while adding some zest of its own. And director Declan Donnellan infuses everything with warmth and high spirits... Shakespeare in Love has a fizzy, infectious exuberance." Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph thought that "the Oscar-laden movie, with its wonderfully witty script by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, was terrific, but in Lee Hallís delightful stage adaptation the piece seems to have found its true home. Itís funny, often genuinely moving and generates a glow you could warm your hands by... Itís got the lot Ė a stirring love story, a prodigious succession of terrific jokes - and it sends up the theatre something rotten while simultaneously delighting in it... There is a real sense of ensemble and shared enjoyment about the acting company."
"If you love Shakespeare you'll like spotting all the in-jokes of his famous plays and memorable lines in this new production... Tom Bateman, as the young Will struggling for a muse, is joyful and suitably earnest, while Lucy Briggs-Owen, as superfan turned love interest Viola De Lesseps, skillfully manages to avoid becoming a Juliet-lite. The supporting cast are bright and energetic. A clever staging for a busy production complements a show as funny, familiar and warm as anything Shakespeare wrote." The Sunday Mirror
"Lee Hall has done a superb job of turning it into a stage play, fleshing out certain characters. Hall has also made the play a bewitching love letter to the theatre itself, while sending it up mercilessly: especially the perennial vanity and egoism of the actorly profession. There's an eager young cast, with no really big names, and a real dog, and they serve Hall superlatively well... And the whole show is given an extra emotional dimension by the Elizabethan dance music from the live band, under the musical director Tim van Eyken. The composer Paddy Cunneen understands that while you can't exactly call Shakespeare's plays musicals, they were plays full of music... It makes for a riotously enjoyable evening in the theatre." The Sunday Times
"When a work is reinvented in brand new theatrical terms (as War Horse and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time were), this can be a cause for celebration; Shakespeare In Love doesn't bother. Lee Hall's rewrite seldom wanders far from Sir Tom Stoppard's delightful original screenplay, stuffed with Shakespeare's favourite themes - genderbending, disguise, mistaken identity and star-crossed lovers - and good gags... The play begins with Tom Bateman's strapping, handsome playwright, surrounded by a gaggle of fans, hopelessly lost for words. 'Shall I compare' he says. Then silence. Fortunately, Will's fellow playwright, the super-cool charmer Christopher Marlowe, just happens to pass by and prompts the rest with effortless wit. The first few times Shakespeare is stumped, it's funny, but director Declan Donnellan flogs the joke to death, and it becomes this production's recurring tic... Another running gag allows most of the characters to crack versions of Shakespeare's most famous lines... Lucy Briggs-Owen is one real bonus in the Gwyneth Paltrow role of Viola... and there's fizzing chemistry between her and Will. Otherwise the show is no great Shakes. Just great fun." The Mail on Sunday
The 1998 film version of Shakespeare in Love starred Joseph Fiennes as 'Will Shakespeare' and Gwyneth Paltrow as 'Viola De Lesseps' with Judi Dench as 'Queen Elizabeth'. The film went on to win seven Oscars including for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Gwyneth Paltrow and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Judi Dench.
Shakespeare In Love in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 2 July 2014, opened on 23 July 2014 and closed on 18 April 2015.