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Shakespeare in Love (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Shakespeare In Love

Society: Trinity Drama Productions

Venue: Trinity Concert Hall

Credits: Tom Stoppard, Marc Norman, Lee Hall, Paddy Cuneen

Shakespeare in Love

4 stars

It’s a good choice for a school play. Shakespeare in Love has a big cast and lots of meaty roles. And it works especially well for a school which is boys only other than in the sixth from because the company run by the hapless Burbage (Matteo de Lorenzo – pleasing performance) and his rivals, were of course, all male.

James Bradburn, directs his cast (Head of Drama is Chris Chambers) to make imaginative use of the big playing space and there are some excellent stage grouping moments. The show is slickly paced too.

Barney Sayburn excels as Shakespeare. He has plenty of stage presence and brings colour and nuance to the role  as he works though his love affair with wannabe actor Viola  De Lesseps (Anna Brovko – warm and convincing) and the gradual development of Romeo and Juliet.  Arthur White, diminutive and feisty, is great fun as John Webster and Alex Molony’s Kit Marlowe is enjoyable.

But the real stars of this show are Tom Stoppard’s script and the side stage band directed by Ralph Barlow. (I had forgotten just how clever Stoppard’s writing is here. He weaves quotes and cross references in continually. I hope the young people acting it are aware that, for example, “Give me to drink mandragora” “The play’s the thing” “Brave new world” “sick of self love” and dozens of other lines are Shakespeare’s own words. It’s sad, though, that when John Webster makes a particularly blood-thirsty remark and then reveals his name, I am the only audience member who laughs.

Trinity School is famous for its music (Trinity Boys Choir etc) so it’s  a treat to hear/see it shining on its own patch. The all-student band provides arrestingly good period music on instruments such as lute, viol, psaltery and spinet alongside trumpets and flutes. Half a dozen fine singers stand behind them producing some pretty impressive harmony. The music sits between scenes and often under dialogue to provide atmosphere.

And that, perversely, creates occasional problems because sometimes there are issues with the acoustic and sound system so that words aren’t always audible despite the use of radio mics. This show is staged in the school’s very large concert hall rather than the smaller theatre next door and, clearly, that has created challenges although it’s a lovely thing for the cast and creatives to be able to work in, and fill, such a large space.

An enormous amount of hard work and dedication has gone into this show and it’s a joy to me to see so many young people, of all abilities, working together and producing something worthwhile. Well done, all.

First published by Sardines:


Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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