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Lee Hall's adaptation of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's

Shakespeare In Love

April 29th - October 16thAvon TheatreTicket Info
Generally Positive Reviews based on 15 Critics
15 Reviews

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This is a listing for the 2016 season. For the current 2024 shows click here.

Milwaukee Journal Sentine - Mike Fischer

Ranking Stratford Festival 2016...

Mike Fischer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saw 10 shows and has ranked them, less as a reductive prescription than as an invitation to conversation.
1) Macbeth: “one’s deepest and darkest thoughts emerge into what little light there ever is; watching this world unfold, one feels an unsettling, primeval connection to characters who are both a millennium old (this production is set in eleventh-century Scotland) and a reflection of ourselves and our neighbors.”
2) All My Sons: “…marvel anew at how much his play still has to say to us and the way we live now…”
3) A Chorus Line: from the tryout at the top of the show to the symbolic, outward facing circle the ensemble creates near journey’s end, we’re reminded that “love’s what we’ll remember.”
4) Bunny: ” I’m not pulling punches when predicting a rousing success for this darkly funny and also wrenching account of a woman (beautifully played by Maev Beaty) in her late thirties, looking back on a lonely life in which her need to be needed results in numerous sexual relationships.”

Read Full Review08/02/2016

The New York Times - Charles Isherwood

In Praise of Repertory Theater:...

The New York Times Charles Isherwood notes Stratford’s unique quality as “a town where actors can afford to live and raise children.”
Isherwood includes brief notes about a few shows, including:
“All My Sons” – Superlative
“Shakespeare in Love” – an ebullient crowd-pleaser
“Macbeth” -Ian Lake giving a galvanizing performance as an unusually young and sexually magnetic Macbeth.
“Night Music” was not a great production, unfortunately, but Cynthia Dale — a veteran of 13 seasons at Stratford — was marvelous in the smallish role of Charlotte.

Read Full Review08/11/2016

The Theatre Reader - Stephanie Tzogas

Heartwarming and hilarious

I have to rave about the spectacular cast. Everyone gives top-notch performances, and I truly mean everyone. Humphrey’s Will is endearing, passionate and raw in his struggle to find his voice and his true love. McCamus as Fennyman, Ouimette as Henslowe and Steve Ross as Burbage give strong performances as the shady businessmen behind London’s burgeoning theatre companies…I thoroughly enjoyed this production and highly recommend you go see this heart-warming show before its run ends.

Read Full Review07/17/2016

The Chicago Tribune - Chris Jones

Serviceable performances

In a review that includes 5 shows Jones noted: “Shakespeare in Love,” the last of the five shows I saw over three days, moved me the least…Perchance my reaction had a lot to do with the mood of the weekend — its English cleverness and self-referential confidence seemingly weirdly out of sync with the Brexit crises, or any other crisis or realignment of the stars, especially since there are richer examples of Tom Stoppard’s famed complexity (he and Marc Norman penned the screenplay).

But I think this mostly was a matter of Donnellan’s production just rushing around too much. Its confident star, Shannon Taylor, seemed to be training for the Olympics, chasing around the stage, never really owning the character’s need for such movement or her inability to escape the pull of the pursuit.

The performances — Luke Humphrey is good old Will Shakespeare and Saamer Usmani is the smarter, flashier Kit Marlowe — are serviceable enough, but the stakes never seem that high, even as the world outside was realigned.

Read Full Review07/01/2016

The National Post - Robert Cushman

Great fun, it moves with speed and...

In his review of both “Shakespeare In Love” and “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” what Cushman calls “the populist wing of the festival,” he notes: Some of the individual performances are delightful: Tom McCamus as the stage-struck moneylender Fennyman, transformed from tyrant to acolyte at the offer of a walk-on role, and Stephen Ouimette as the manager Philip Henslowe, who historically was a loan-shark, but who figures here as an anxious and committed impresario, confident that the show not only must but will go on….Donnellan’s production is great fun and moves with speed and purpose. Ormerod’s set is cunning and versatile, a theatre within a theatre.

Read Full Review06/23/2016

Between the Lines - Robert Reid

The influence of Disney

There’s no question this high-octane Shakespeare in Love, which continues though October 16, will put bums in seats. Moreover the North American premiere succeeds in no small part because of the quality of the festival’s acting company…Beyond the actors, however, it’s difficult to determine where the festival’s influence on Lee Hall’s stage adaptation begins and where the influence of Disney Theatre Productions ends…Transporting the production from London’s West End to Stratford results in a generic package. It would have been interesting to see what a director on intimate terms with the festival might have done to put a more personal stamp on Shakespeare in Love.

Read Full Review06/15/2016

The Slotkin Letter - Lynn Slotkin

Energy, romance and passion for the...

In her “short” review of both The Lion, the “Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Shakespeare In Love” Slotkin notes: “Declan Donnellan has directed a quick, almost breathless paced production, with wit, wonderful detail and the most wonderful realization of the two lovers of Shakespeare (Luke Humphrey) and Viola (Shannon Taylor).”

Read Full Review06/13/2016

Broadway World - Lauren Gienow

Newcomers shine

Part of what makes this production so magical is the fantastic company that has been assembled. Tom McCamus is hilarious as Fennyman the financier for the play who, maybe has just a little bit of a desire to be an actor; Steve Ross and Stephen Ouimette also get lots of laughs as theatre owners,..Some newcomers to the Festival also leave quite the impression on this production. Both Thomas Mitchell Barnet and Tal Shulman are fantastic as young men auditioning for women’s parts.

Read Full Review06/08/2016

The Globe and Mail - J. Kelly Nestruck

Borrowing the success of a film...

I, for one, was eager for a light-hearted lark and a bit of romance at the end of a long opening week. Unfortunately, director Declan Donnellan’s busy, breathless production delivered too little of either… He overcooks the comedy and underdoes the passion – making a Michelin-star cast look like McDonald’s in the process…under Donnellan’s direction, the theatre world is depicted with little apparent love. With plenty of Stratford actors and directors to send up, we instead get flat, generic types…this is a stage production that wants to borrow the success of a film rather than create its own.

Read Full Review06/06/2016

Stage Door - Christopher Hoile

No need to wait until it hits Broadway

The mystery of the theatre, and of all art, is that fiction and artifice can uncover the truth. In “Shakespeare in Love,” Queen Elizabeth I sets a wager, “Can a play show us the very truth and nature of love?” After seeing Romeo and Juliet, she has to admit that a play can. After seeing Shakespeare in Love, we, too, have to agree it is doubly true….Shakespeare in Love contains large swaths of Romeo and Juliet, and, as enacted by Humphrey and Taylor under Donnellan’s direction, these excerpts are so engaging and so moving that they outshine the full-scale Shakespeares currently playing at the Festival.

Read Full Review06/06/2016

The Toronto Star - Karen Fricker

Many treats but needs streamlining

Fans of the film will recognize a great deal here: Hall follows Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s screenplay closely but has also layered in additional material that adds up to a taxing 150-minute running time (a full half-hour longer than the film). This length, some contentious material and some surprisingly unnuanced treatment of several supporting roles weigh down what is clearly intended to be a sumptuous evening of fun and froth…Humphrey and Taylor bring everything necessary to these plum roles: they’re youthful and gorgeous, they speak the lines with skill and conviction, and they genuinely seem to fancy the knickers off each other.

Read Full Review06/06/2016

James Wegg Review - James Wegg

Decidedly more satisfying than the movie

Two important narrative items are much better handled on stage than in front of the camera. Shakespeare’s proclivity to go both ways is much more than a brief crotch grab instead puckering up with a beard to succinctly demonstrate to Viola (a.k.a. mustachioed Romeo in the play within the play) just how to render a full-on kiss to someone who also shaves—wearing a dress or not. And the pivotal role of Christopher Marlowe (Saamer Usmani positively nails the part) is wisely given much more “screen” time than the uncredited Rupert Everett in the film.

Read Full Review06/05/2016

The Stratford Beacon Herald - Bruce Urquhart

Sidesplitting celebration of theatre...

Directed with verve by Donnellan, whose Cheek and Jowl theatre company originally brought Shakespeare in Love to the West End stage, the Stratford production is bolstered by a superb ensemble and star-making turns by the two leads – Humphrey and a revelatory Shannon Taylor, who shines in the role of Viola.

Read Full Review06/05/2016

The Bard and the Boards - Robyn Godfrey

True love-letter to Shakespeare and...

The cast (more than 20 of them if you count the dog) does a fine job of keeping plot and dialogue crisp, funny and flowing, with much scene-chewing from the entire cast; this is perfectly appropriate in a romantic play which at times approaches farce (Michael Frayn’s Noises Off! comes to mind). It is hard to say which actor pulls off the over-acting the best, although arguably Tom McCamus has the best lines as Fennyman, and Sarah Orenstein the largest presence as Queen Elizabeth.

Read Full Review06/05/2016

The Hamilton Spectator - Gary Smith

Ribald, romantic and boisterous

Anyone who loves the Bard of Avon will be well-rewarded with lines from many of the great man’s comedies and tragedies, at times hopelessly jumbled together…Stephen Ouimette is superb as Henslowe, upstaging everyone at every turn. Saamer Usmani is a handsome Kit Marlowe, Karen Robinson a naughty nurse, Sarah Orenstein an imposing Elizabeth, Mike Nadajewski a cut-up of a boat’s man and Tom McManus a stand-in for every money-grubber theatre-lover who was pleased to put on a funny hat to be in a show.

Read Full Review06/08/2016

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