Ever wondered how William Shakespeare came up with “Romeo and Juliet?” Surely only a man in love could have conceived of such a love story, right?
Marc Herman and Tom Stoppard creatively wrote the screenplay “Shakespeare in Love” with such an idea in mind. Their script, with Lee Hall’s adaptation for the stage, incorporates Shakespearean dialect with a contemporary flair. The play, on stage now at the Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, opens with Will, who has writer’s block, consulting with fellow writer Kit Marlowe. He has a great idea for a play but is struggling with putting the words together. Young Viola De Lesseps yearns to act on the stage but in Elizabethan times actors were by law only men. So Viola shows up at auditions for Will’s new play with a mustache and calls herself Thomas Kent. A woman disguised as a man playing a woman. Got that? This is one of the wild and crazy scenarios in this play brilliantly directed by Maura Hanlon. The show is filled with insane comings and goings, wild antics and quirky dialogue all moving a frenetic pace.
Hanlon’s talented cast (14 actors, 29 roles) is up to the task; the troupe executes each step, cue, exit and entrance superbly. Nick Nudler portrays Will with a knack for the dramatic, just as one imagines Shakespeare to be, and Lindsey Erin Agnes is triumphant as Viola. The two have a natural chemistry that translates through to their onstage personas. And they are surrounded by stellar, standout performances. Mario Haynes as Kit was dynamic, and Stephen L. Russell as Fennyman showed off his comic chops as a straight man. The always divine Art Devine is hilarious (“It’s a mystery”), as is Anthony Teixeria. Teixeria had us laughing out loud more than once. Jenn Pina stole a scene or two as Viola’s nurse, and then again as Queen Elizabeth largely because of the inventive way the Queen entered a room. Macklin Devine was excellent as Webster, a catalytic role in the show. And any Cape Rep devotee knows that Dennis Cunningham, Ari Lew and Tom Wolfson are always an onstage benefit, and they don’t disappoint this time. Rounding out the cast and contributing to the overall sheen of this fine production are Ryan Sheehan, Peter Hodgson (doubling as the show’s musical director), Stephen Rourke and Penny the dog.
Ryan McGettigan’s stark yet ingenious set of simple posts and beams with a movable platform that easily transforms to a stage (for the play within the play) to a bed and more is extraordinary. The fabulous costumes created by Robin McLaughlin are detailed and evoke the era. Phil Kong (lighting design), Margaret Clark (fight choreography), Alison Weller (dialect coach) and Kate Gulden’s (stage manager) contributions should also be noted. You are sure to fall in love with “Shakespeare in Love” this fall.
“Shakespeare in Love”
At Cape Rep Theatre, Route 6A, Brewster
Through Dec. 2, Tuesday to Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
Information and reservations: 508-896-1888, www.caperep.org