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Tom Stoppard 


 

       

Shakespeare in Love

 
 

Love - 

Like There Has Never Been In A Play!

   

 

Shakespeare in Love: a delightful alternative to a night at the theatre: watching, re-watching a movie about the very act of playwriting that's also a love story and brilliant fun.  Only Sir Tom Stoppard could so audaciously take on Shakespeare and the Elizabethan stage to create a film so thoroughly voluptuous, intellectually intoxicating, and rapturously funny (he completely rewrote and added his glittering lines to something that had been begun by Marc Norman who shares screenwriting credit; the two never met until Stoppard had completed the script).

 

In this 1998 film the dramatic license taken with Shakespeare's life is always respectful, there's homage in the humor.  Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is suffering from writer's block as he attempts to complete his new play -- Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter -- later to be known to the world as Romeo and Juliet.  Shakespeare falls in love with Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) who defying the laws of the time, wishes to test her considerable thespian talents on stage as a man and auditions for the play disguised as one Thomas Kent.  Theirs is a forbidden love: they can never wed, for Shakespeare is a commoner and de Lesseps's hand has been promised to the rather stuffy and pompous Lord Wessex, played here by Colin Firth.  Their fiery love affair plays out against an intriguing backdrop of theatrical connivances and double-dealings.  It's a movie about showbiz and theatre, chock-full of in-jokes, but as Stoppard said, "not so 'in' to put off those not in the business."  Dame Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth asserts her authority in inimitable style. Wonderfully directed by John Madden, Shakespeare in Love garnered 7 Academy Awards.

 

Such fun then: the countless double entendres, clever repartee, drollery, the knowing allusions to Shakespearean texts, and the very fabulosity of language.  It's the wit, the quicksilver lines, that make the film sparkle, the actors are mere players -- the light in this film belongs completely to Tom Stoppard.  When referring to Shakespeare's rival Christopher Marlowe, Fiennes quips: ''Lovely waistcoat. Shame about the poetry.''  And there's love, unabashed love, territory where Stoppard usually treads with much trepidation.  Here Viola de Lesseps says: "I will have poetry in my life.  And adventure.  And love.  Love above all.  No... not the artful postures of love, not playful and poetical games of love for the amusement of an evening, but love that... over-throws life.  Unbiddable, ungovernable - like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture.  Love - like there has never been in a play…." 

 

Interestingly, Stoppard, who wields the English language so brilliantly, was born in Czechoslovakia and went to school in Darjeeling before his family moved to England.  He has tackled Shakespeare before in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and he is the author of the astoundingly clever Arcadia and the lovely Indian Ink.

  

 

See: Shakespeare in Love 

 

Read: Arcadia, Tom Stoppard

 

Read: Indian Ink, Tom Stoppard

 

Read: Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

 

Tags:  theatre  broadway

 

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