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Article By: Somaiya Rowland, CAMD student majoring in Theatre

Shakespeare in Love at Speakeasy Stage Company delights lovers of film and theatre alike, with an energy as intoxicating as the words of love it presents. Directed by The Northeastern Department of Theatre’s very own Chair, Scott Edmiston, it thrills the senses and pulls everyone into the world of words, love, and theatre. The play, adapted from the Oscar-winning 1998 film, does not try to recreate the film- it instead finds a new lens through which to experience the story. The play takes advantage of the power and rapture of live theatre and creates an unforgettable and unrepeatable experience.

The play itself focuses on Shakespeare’s (Played by George Olesky) life but creates his love and inspiration, Viola de Lesseps (Played by Jennifer Ellis). We watch in absolute joy as Shakespeare invents Romeo and Juliet, with a little help from fellow playwright and friend Christopher Marlowe (Played by Eddie Shields), out of desperate attempt to woo Viola and pay his debts. Sometimes we all need a little help in the love department… even Shakespeare. Full of joyous comedy and self-awareness, it fulfills on all levels without becoming overdone or tiresome. Indeed, no one could tire of the ever-present fire of the cast and the gorgeous world created by the designers.

Wry sprinkles of Shakespeare references make the play a treasure hunt for the classical connoisseur, while the traditional Shakespearean plot will delight audiences new to the theatre. As the action builds, it becomes clear that Edmiston weaves in the sometimes-crazy Shakespearean plot devices with a wink, which makes the dramatic plot reveals and outrageous love story delightful to experience. He artfully combines this classic story with his own twist, which can be seen in moments such as the audition for Shakespeare’s new play, a comical competition with far too many headshots that any aspiring actor can relate to all too well.

Jenna Lord’s set design is enthralling. It beautifully echoes the feel of London’s Globe Theatre and is stunningly simple and effective at giving the cast a place to play. The cast also uses all parts of the theatre; the audience gets to delight in watching famous actor Ned Allenyn (Played by Theatre Assistant Teaching Professor Jesse Hinson) swagger past. The set is a single unit without wings, which made the tact with which the actor’s entered and exited the stage that much more impressive. There was never a moment that distracted from the onstage action, which allowed the audience to fall that much deeper into the world of the play. This attention to detail was echoed by the costume design, done by Rachel Padula-Shufelt, which combined Renaissance era garb for the more traditional characters and a punk twist for the visionaries. The lighting was gorgeous and tasteful, weaving the magic into the world and bringing our attention to each detail that might otherwise go unnoticed. It was also created by CAMD alumnus Connor O’Brien ‘17, who worked as the Assistant Lighting Designer!

Shakespeare in Love was amazing and the involvement of CAMD’s own alumni and faculty in the production make the experience that much more incredible. It was an opportunity for me to witness my teachers working and creating, and making incredibly unique art. It’s one thing to talk about theatre but I am proud that my teachers actually actively work in the field. They are incredibly talented and I get to learn a lot about their process and work ethic when I see their shows. I get to learn about the rehearsal process in real time and see the fruits of their labor with greater appreciation. I can see all the acting techniques that Jesse Hinson shows us in class in his own performance, which gives validity to the work I do. I can see how Scott Edmiston uses the directing techniques he teaches us to create a world for the play unlike any other. I can watch my own friend Connor, whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating with, begin to work professionally. This involvement helps me understand what goes into working in the industry and gives me a greater appreciation for my art. I adored seeing Shakespeare in Love, and (even if you aren’t a crazy Theatre Major like me) I know you will too!

Shakespeare in Love plays at Wimberly Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center of the Arts through February 11. Catch the final days of this romance just in time for Valentines!

Buy tickets at Speakeasy Stage Company’s website.