Entertainment » Theatre

Shakespeare in Love

by Daniel Lamb
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 11, 2017
Shakespeare in Love

The Alliance Theatre production of "Shakespeare in Love" brings to life the stage adaptation of the beloved movie. Fans of the film won't be disappointed -- the dialogue and story line are well-adapted. The play does, however, stand on its own. If you've never seen the movie, it's not a prerequisite. The play is great fun.

The adaptation differs from the original screenplay in at least one substantive way -- the character of Marlowe takes on a greater role in the play. In the play, Marlowe is Shakespeare's confidant and serves to trigger some of Will's key lines of poetic verse. At times, it feels like Marlowe is the real genius, not Shakespeare.

Since the Alliance's main stage is being renovated this year, the company is spending a year on the road staging its plays at other local theaters. It's fitting that this production of Will Shakespeare's story reunites director Richard Garner with some former actors of Georgia Shakespeare including veteran Chris Kayser and Neal Ghant. Of course, the production is also being staged at the former location of Georgia Shakespeare at Oglethorpe University.

Garner's production successfully creates the Elizabethan world of Shakespeare through its visual and musical aesthetic. The stagecraft of the play is minimalistic and wholly effective, and the medieval score enhances the atmosphere throughout.

Overall, the characters are very well acted. Neal Ghant brings Kit Marlowe to life with wit and swagger, a presence in every scene in which he appears. Fans of the film will notice that Tinashe Kajesse-Bolden gives Queen Elizabeth's dialogue new life, and her character has a much more humorous flavor than Judy Dench's film portrayal of Elizabeth as the reserved, stern ruler. As Will, Thomas Azar is a commanding presence, delivering a Shakespeare that is this fly-by-night guy, vacillating between his self-assurance as the playwright and the romantic who's hopelessly drawn to Viola.

Doing double duty, Bethany Anne Lind plays through the dynamic of Viola/Thomas Kent with a binary of sternness in Viola and softness in Kent. As Lord Wessex, Joe Knezevich delivers a compelling performance, totally embodying the character's authenticity as the entitled, pompous nobleman.

Tess Malis Kincaid deserves special note for her role as the nurse bringing humor and heart to a role that is a binding force within the play. As an ensemble member, Jeremy Aggers lends his musical talents as well as his acting chops in the simple yet potent role of the stammering Wabash.

The narrative of the play blends fact and fiction, a fiction about Shakespeare's life while combining references to his plays and sonnets. The primary work featured within the play is the fictional evolution of "Romeo and Juliet." The play confronts the hyper-masculine culture of the theater in Elizabethan England.

As Thomas Kent, Lady Viola breaks the taboo, entering the boy's club of the theater as an actor. Of course, the state's Master of Revels tries to shut down the theater for violating the law. Ultimately, the show must go on, but not without its bittersweet consequences. Despite the challenge to the patriarchal paradigm, Viola's arc doesn't transcend the constructs of society.

"Shakespeare in Love" runs through September 24 at Oglethorpe University's Conant Performing Arts Center, 4484 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30319. For tickets and information, call 404-733-4650 or visit www.alliance theatre.org.

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