Shakespeare In Love @ The Noël Coward Theatre
It’s a rare treat to be able to return to a show just sixmonths after first seeing it and see a complete new cast at work. We loved Shakespeare In Love when we first saw it in July last year (read that review here), the cast were wonderful and the script sparkled. So of course our first worry was whether it would be as good on the second viewing…
From the off it’s clear that Orlando James is perfectly cast as Will Shakespeare, where Tom Bateman sizzled James is a bundle of nervous energy, never sure of himself but ceaselessly charming nonetheless. It’s very much his own stamp on the character and provides us with the most rounded Will yet. He’s perfectly matched by Eve Ponsonby whose Viola is wonderfully innocent and armed with a coquettish giggle that will have had half the audience falling in love with her. Their chemistry is palpable and it’s clear the two love working opposite each other.
Elsewhere Nicholas Asbury shows his stripes as an RSC veteran, revelling in the reverential witticisms peppered throughout his dialogue. His Wessex is a sinister chap indeed, supercilious and cocksure. Peter Moreton’s self-important Burbage is a delight too, his nods to Shakespeare’s work delivered with just enough relish to remind the audience how much fun the whole cast must be having.
One cast member remains from the debut cast too, his shaggy hair and boundless energy marking him out as a star. Indeed Barney the labradoodle is still getting bigger rounds of applause than any of his colleagues.
Sadly some performances are painted with all too broad a brush and lack the nuances of the original cast. It’s not to say that there are bad performances, merely that some are stronger than others and this is always the downside with revisiting a show (especially one you adored).
None of this detracts from the whole experience though and Shakespeare In Love remains one of the most entertaining and enjoyable shows on offer in London. Don’t believe us? Go check out the many reviews from fellow critics and bloggers who packed the stalls last night. Indeed one of our favourite things about a press night is getting to chat to like-minded journalists and theatre lovers. We had a great time chatting to fellow writer Emily Channon last night. You can go read her work here.
But before you do, go grab some tickets to see Shakespeare In Love before it departs the West End this summer!