Friday, 6 February 2015

Review: Orlando James & Eve Ponsonby star in Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre

Shakespeare in Love
Noel Coward Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 5th February 2015

Following its West End opening last July, a new cast have joined Disney's West End production of Shakespeare in Love. Based on the 1998 movie, Shakespeare in Love follows 'Will' as he struggles to write a play... which will eventually become one of the most iconic pieces of theatre ever written, Romeo and Juliet.

Orlando James and Eve Ponsonby
Will falls for noblewoman Viola De Lesseps who has a passion for acting, despite only men being allowed to perform in the theatre. Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall, the production is slicker and more fine-tuned than when I first saw it last year. Shakespeare in Love is a beautiful play featuring some mesmerising moments. 

Both Orlando James and Eve Ponsonby, who have taken over as Will Shakespeare and Viola De Lesseps, bring a fresh energy to the piece. It’s so refreshing to see a new cast being able to put their own stamp on the roles they are taking over, as often creative teams only desire carbon copies. 

James has strong presence; pitching the comedy perfectly whilst performing with charm. I adored Ponsonby's different take on Viola; she has fire in her belly and brings out so much more comedy which makes it easier to warm to the character. 

It is hardly surprising that James and Ponsonby share strong chemistry as they previously starred opposite each other in Cheek by Jowl’s production of ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore. They bounce off each other's energy beautifully. 

A mention must also go to Joy Richardson who lightens up the stage as Viola's nurse. An Olivier nomination must be around the corner for Barney whose portrayal of Spot the Dog continues to bring the house down night after night. 

I love that whilst Shakespeare in Love is timeless and eloquent, it is also so accessible. Declan Donnellan's production is cinematic and stands strong as a piece of theatre in its own right. 

The large cast, along with Nick Ormerod's sweeping design, make Shakespeare in Love feel like a grand event. The joyful finale, which sees the audience clapping and cheering along while the cast bounce and dance around the stage, is utterly terrific, ending the evening on a magnificent high.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Shakespeare in Love is currently booking at the Noel Coward Theatre until Saturday 18th April 2015. Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Johan Persson ©Disney

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