Nothing makes you feel like a Londoner more than hopping on the train to catch an evening show in the glitzy, belisha beacon that is the West End. I am not a thespian, just a humble lover of a good show and a catchy song, so to be completely honest with you I'll have to say that I've never seen a 'proper' play live before. I've seen musicals, but never a play. Let's face it, the GCSE Shakespeare plays we watched in our dingy school halls didn't quite meet my live theatre expectations. Alas, it very little resembled the second-rate acting I experienced as a teen (or the second-rate acting of Gwyneth Paltrow), but was instead a visual delight, a wonderful testament to William Shakespeare and an overall joy to sit through.
The Noel Coward theatre isn't huge but you simply cannot miss it on St. Martin's Lane, just off Trafalgar Square. The entrance is ringed in very 'showbiz' lightbulbs, which excites the heart and pulls you inside to soak up the intimate energy of the theatre. This was just as well because I all but frozen my cheeks off walking over Waterloo Bridge - spring what are you playing at with these blustery winds?!
The set design was clever, impactful and totally immersive. The acting was sublime and pushed you from laughter to awe to utmost despair all within the space of a scene. The story was the epitome of entertainment, with the perfect balance of Shakespearean wit, modern dialogue and well-timed comedy. If you're a Shakespeare lover you'll notice little easter eggs included throughout the show (that made my nerdy friends squeal with delight). If you're not, the quick pace and comedic timing of the actors will keep you thoroughly entertained. Also there's a dog. Yup, a dog!
I have to tip a feathered hat to those behind the stage design - it really is something special! When you go to watch a play about a play you can bet the set is going to be pretty epic. It put me in mind of the Globe theatre and seemed a seamless extension of the Noel Coward theatre itself. Only with a 15th Century spin! Also the costumes - ah we all know how I feel about a corset and embroided petticoat!
Shakespeare in Love closes on the 18th April, so catch it now if you can! I give it a well-deserved 4 Snug stars out of 5.
I went along on a very reasonable £15 ticket, which did mean I had a restricted view, but I didn't mind propping my chin up on my hand to catch the balcony action! That's pretty much the price of a cinema ticket. Tickets are available here, but I think they'll be selling up fast!
Have you seen a fantastic show recently? Do you think you'd like 'Shakespeare in Love'? Let me know!