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Brisbane review - Shakespeare in Love: funny, moving and fast paced

Brisbane review - Shakespeare in Love: funny, moving and fast paced

By David Wils

Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard

Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall

Direction and set design by Michael Ware

Presented by the Beenleigh Theatre Group

At the Crete St Theatre until Saturday 24 February 2024.

Tickets are $30 adult, $25 concession/child, available at 


Shakespeare in Love is an excellent stage adaptation of the hugely popular Oscar winning 1998 film of the same name which tells the fictional backstory of a young yet to be famous playwright and poet William Shakespeare.

Young Will Shakespeare has writer's block. The deadline for his new play is fast approaching, but he's in desperate need of inspiration. That is, until he finds his muse... the feisty, brilliant and beautiful Viola. This crafty young woman is Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing (including breaking the law) to appear in his next play. Against a bustling background of mistaken identity, ruthless scheming and backstage theatrics, Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms, inspiring him to write his greatest romantic masterpiece.

The creative team at Beenleigh Theatre Group has done a stellar job of bringing this extremely funny, moving and fast paced play to the stage. The excellent direction of Michael Ware is obvious throughout, and his very clever set design - simple and minimalistic yet very effective - not only perfectly captured the period, but also allowed for very efficient set changes (of which there were many) and for the actors to fill the empty spaces for the audience with their character driven portrayals. The simple screen projection of some of Shakespeare’s most famous and well known lines which were apropos the unfolding story was visually striking and very powerful.

Special mention to the stunning costuming by Trinette Avery and Jo-Anne Kieseker who have done a wonderful job of delivering the directors vision of highlighting the patriarchal constraints of the day, with the women confined to full period attire while the men are given more freedom with comfortable, hybrid period/modern costuming.

The cast, to a person, was excellent. This is a very demanding, fast paced, dialogue heavy play, requiring accents, fight scene choreography, harmonies, the use of props and a requirement for perfect timing and comedic flair, all of which were delivered brilliantly. The very significant amount of rehearsal time was obvious and much appreciated by the large opening night audience.

Nicholas Hargreaves was wonderful as William Shakespeare, expertly capturing the characters foibles, injecting just the right amount of insecurity and self-doubt to his streetwise, quick-witted character. In addition to his excellent timing, Hargreaves’ use of physicality was fantastic, particularly his contrasting body language and movements when struggling for inspiration as opposed to when he was enlivened by his muse.

Hargreaves was at his best when partnered with the very talented Hannah Martin who played Viola De Lesseps/Thomas Kent brilliantly. Martin is a confident leading lady and her performance was outstanding. Martin’s Viola was a wonderful blend of passionate romantic and rebel, making for a very believable muse. Martin was particularly adept at differentiating the Thomas Kent ‘role’ through great characterisation, and her scenes with Nurse were very well done.

Will’s friend and fellow playwright Kit Marlowe was played by the fabulously charismatic Harrison Port. His timing was impeccable and his interplay with Will throughout was very well done indeed.

Daniel Dosek made a brilliant Lord Wessex. Highlighting the patriarchal times and stopping short of being cartoonishly evil, Dosek appeared to revel in the challenge of the role, with his characterisation providing a perfect balance to Martin’s romantic outlook on life.

There were a number of other notable performances, particularly Mark James as Henslow and Sean Wilson as Fennyman. Hannah Davies was also great as Nurse, as was Lachlan Bretherton-Scobie as Ned Alleyn

I could go on, but in a large ensemble piece such as this it is not possible to call out every great individual performance - part of the magic of this particular production is how all of those excellent individual performances come together so well to deliver such high quality which is a credit to all cast and crew.

I thoroughly encourage you to see this hilariously enjoyable and very polished production.











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