Shakespeare in Love is shameless, delirious, fangirl idolatry of the author considered to be the pinnacle of writing in English. Don’t go to Shakespeare in Love for facts or history. Go to Shakespeare in Love for good, trashy fun. On the night I saw it, the audience, packed cheek-by-jowl into the Keegan Theatre, had a ball.
It’s an exuberant, overstuffed production that plays like one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti with four or five featured instruments that are supported by an oversized orchestra or two. The three lead actors hold the show together. But every actor in this play has at least one scene during which they can, and do, chew the scenery to tatters.
Terrance Fleming [as Will Shakespeare] … leads the cast with sure-footed authority. On the other hand, if you ever need a strong supporting man, call on Duane Richards II. His Kit Marlowe is the definitive wingman. He does not compete with Fleming’s Shakespeare. Rather he accepts and builds on Fleming’s every stage offer and reveals why Will Shakespeare would value having such a would-be competitor around. Ashley D. Nguyen plays Viola with a balance of pliant gentleness and steadfast artistic and personal integrity. The love scenes between Will Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps are, to borrow a phrase, fire.
The dance choreography (Douglas Dubois) is impressive. The choreographer manages to effectively shift our attention among conversations that take place during the dances without stopping the dances for the conversation and without the movement becoming clunky while the conversation proceeds. The fight choreography (Ryan Sellers) was equally effective.
The sets and costumes are evocative and clever, each always giving you something new to watch with each scene. There are musical interludes throughout the piece appropriately evoking the Elizabethan period, under the astute musical direction of Tiffany Holmes.
Co-Directors Ricky Drummond and Douglas DuBois set out to give us an entertaining piece and they have succeeded.