Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s (STNJ) eagerly anticipated production of “Shakespeare in Love” fulfills and thrills with its winsome characters and favorite company actors, along with some new additions. This is the perfect Autumn treat for theatre lovers, whether your favorite role is audience, or your passions run to all aspects from production to tech to acting. This is a play for all reasons.
Four hundred years is a very long time and, from Shakespeare’s time to 1998, when the film “Shakespeare in Love” debuted, we had a largely reverent view of one of the world’s longest running playwrights. The film brought us back to Earth and reminded us of the charm of limerance and how love inspires. In 2014, when the Lee Hall’s stage adaptation of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s screenplay graced the stage in the West End, we got something even earthier within our grasp.
STNJ fan favorite Jon Barker is our Will and where there is Will, there is certainly a way! Clever and canny and all too human, Barker shows us the man with feet of clay, who is far from perfect, yet perfectly divine. STNJ newcomer Whitney Maris Brown is one to watch–she’s Viola de Lesseps and the spark in the arc of Shakespeare’s designs. She has fallen in love with Will’s words, and her will to change is as strong as his to write. Their chemistry is palpable, and watching them ignite that delectable spark of love is like falling in love yourself.
Anthony Marble’s Marlowe, Will’s bestie, is louche and sexy, as well as being a brilliant Cyrano, when Will needs him most. Ames Adamson’s Fennyman and Edmond Genest’s Henslowe are pure delight, and Marcus Dean Fuller’s Wessex is that beautiful razor’s edge of privilege and rogue. David Andrew Macdonald’s Burbage is full of bluster and blood, while Erika Rolfsrud’s Queen Elizabeth is so perfectly spot-on, her performance and turns of phrase remain with me still.
This is an evening when the Shakespeare faithful are rewarded with many wee Easter Eggs of phrases and lines and, whether you laugh inside or laugh out loud, this is a thoroughly human, thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre that is a tonic after the news that bombards us daily. “Shakespeare in Love” is a reminder that the world has ever been thus, and we are merely players.
November 12 is the date of the final show, but order your tickets NOW or you will be left figuratively and literally out in the cold. Visit www.shakespearenj.org
for tickets and more details!