Saturday, February 10, 2018

Shakespeare in Love at the Shakes.

Shakespeare in Love is based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. It was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. I was just familiar with the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes. In Shakespeare's day only men were allowed to perform on the theater stage. However Viola De Lesseps was in love with the bards poetic words. She knew how to breath life into his words better than any man, so she dressed as a man named Thomas Kent to audition for a part in his latest play which was being written for the queen (Anne Hering.) Shakespeare (John Keller) was drawn to her performance in the audition but she ran away when he wanted to see her without a hat. Shakespeare follows Kent to Viola's house and leaves a note with the nurse, asking Thomas Kent to begin rehearsals at the Rose. Shakespeare sneaks into Viola's garden, finding her on her balcony, where they briefly confess their mutual attraction to each other before he is discovered by her nurse and flees. Inspired by Viola, Shakespeare writes quickly, completely transforming the play into what will become Romeo and Juliet.

Some of the biggest laughs come when "Thomas Kent" has difficulty kissing a man dressed as Juliet. She gives him a peck on the forehead instead. In an attempt to get the scene right Shakespeare himself steps in as Juliet and Romeo finally kisses with gusto. Thomas (Viola) pauses for a moment and then jumps up on the bard wrapping his legs around the playwright. The theater is shut down when Viola is discovered as a true woman. However another theater owner who saw the play in progress decides to allow the production to open in his theater. Viola can no longer perform as Romeo so she sits back stage. Shakespeare himself takes the part of Romeo. Then the actor playing Juliet looses his voice. It turns out that Viola knows every line, so she is thrust out on stage to perform as Juliet. The star crossed lovers perform the final scene which mirrors the fact that they can not stay together despite their love, because Viola is promised to a Lord Wessex (Duncan Bahr). She sails off with a man she doesn't love looking back at the love of her life.

This romance tragedy is a reminder that sometimes love is not enough and that sometimes a couple is torn apart due to obligations and different life paths. It is a bitter sweet pill to swallow.

Shakespeare in Love runs through March 25th and shows are selling out fast.
Where: Orlando Shakespeare Center 812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803.

Tickets are $25 to $50.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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