Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Shakespeare in LoveSouth Coast Repertory
Will Shakespeare (Paul David Story) has writer's block on his new play, Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate's Daughter. He's promised the play to two different theatre proprietors, the roguish Henslowe (Bo Foxworth) and the extravagantly theatrical Burbage (Louis Lotorto), and they're getting impatient. Meanwhile, Viola (Carmela Corbett), a fan of Shakespeare's writing, has disguised herself as a man to act in one of his plays. Viola and Will fall for each other, which displeases Lord Wessex (Bill Brochtrup), who's been promised her hand in marriage.
Story is regrettably a bit unconvincing as Will, which may partly be the fault of the adaptation, seeming more like an out-of-his-depth student than the young Bard. Oddly, in a scene where he plays Romeo, his performance works. Corbett fares much better as Viola, garnering sympathy in her scenes about her unwanted marriage and reveling in her romantic and playacting moments. Foxworth is scurrilously hilarious as the grungy Henslowe, and Lotorto is very funny as enraged thespian Burbage. Finally, Brochtrup does fine work as the dastardly Wessex, getting more amusing the angrier he becomes.
Marc Masterson's direction feels a bit unfocused, in particular a set-piece scene where a script gets tossed around and it's hard to follow the chaotic action. He does, however, get good work from his large ensemble. The main problem with Hall's adaptation is that it doesn't make a convincing case for why this story needed to be made into a playi.e. if somebody hadn't seen the film and saw this first, they'd wonder what all the fuss had been about. Susan Tsu's costumes, though, are detailed and lovely.
Shakespeare In Love, through February 10, 2018, at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa CA. Tickets and info are available at www.scr.org.
Adapted by Lee Hall from the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard