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It’s a mystery

The film came out in 1998 and won a number of Oscars. But the romantic comedy of the Bard of England suffering writer’s block cured by his falling in love with Lady Viola De Lesseps seems to be suited to the stage in a far more natural way.


Figure Image
David Oakes as Marlow and Tom Bateman as Shakespeare | photo: Disney

The play
The Noel Coward Theatre, London
By Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard
Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall
Director Declan Donnellan

The impossible liaison between Shakespeare the penniless playwright (Tom Bateman) and Viola (Lucy Briggs-Owen), promised in marriage to Lord Wessex, is imagined as the background to the writing, casting and first staging of Romeo and Juliet. This initial production is a joyous celebration of theatre which embraces elements of music, dance, mime and comedy woven around Shakespeare’s wonderful poetry and prose. The on-stage period music and the counter-tenor voice of Charlie Tighe are an added delight.

Power of theatre

Where the magic and power of theatre comes from is a continual question posed throughout the play. Rather tongue-in-cheek the answer is given several times that ‘It’s a mystery’. But actually that mystery is bound up with the deeper mystery of what it is to be human: sub-creators, fallen now, but made in the image of the great creator.