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85-88 St Martins Lane, London WC2N 4AU

Shakespeare In Love

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Closed April 18, 2015

A film about the world's greatest playwright makes a natural transition to the stage.

Why See Shakespeare In Love?

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Nominated for the Best New Comedy Olivier Award!

Based on the Academy Award-winning movie, Shakespeare in Love is a witty romantic comedy which follows the Bard as he embarks on a passionate love affair that would inspire one of his greatest works. Teeming with the sights and sounds of Elizabethan London, this adaptation boasts one of the largest casts ever assembled for a West End play.

Directed by John Madden and starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow, the 1998 film was a worldwide smash and won an astounding seven Oscars and three Baftas. Lee Hall, best known for writing Billy Elliot, has adapted Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's original screenplay and prolific Shakespearean director Declan Donnellan will helm this stage adaptation. The cast is stacked with rising stars and old hands, and is led by Lucy Briggs Owen (Fortune's Fool) as Viola, and Tom Bateman (The Tunnel) as Shakespeare.

What is Shakespeare in Love About?

The year is 1593, and struggling playwright William Shakespeare is suffering from writer's block. His latest work, the provisionally titled Romeo and Ethel: The Pirate's Daughter, lies unfinished. The only problem is that his patron Philip Henslowe has already sold the rights. With the pressure on, Shakespeare starts auditioning for his Romeo. One actor, a young man named Thomas Kent, stands head and shoulders above the other hopefuls. However Kent is hiding a secret - he's not a young man at all! In reality, this impressive thespian is Viola de Lesseps, a young noblewoman with a passion for the theatre, who's determined to play the part even though women are forbidden from taking to the stage.

When Shakespeare discovers Lesseps true identity, the two begin a torrid love affair which transgresses every moral and social code of the day and inspires the playwright to complete the greatest love story he ever wrote: Romeo and Juliet.

Did You Know?

Dame Judi Dench won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth I in the 1998 movie. Her total screen time was about 8 minutes, which comes second only to Beatrice Straight in 1976's Network as the briefest Oscar-winning performance ever.

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Additional Information


Previews from: 2 July 2014

Opening night: 23 July 2014


Suitable for audiences aged 12 and upwards

Run time

Approx two hours 30 minutes including interval

And before you stop reading

Please note, images used are from the previous cast of the show and will be updated soon.


You may be required to have had a COVID vaccine in order to attend this performance or show proof of a negative test. Please contact the venue directly for more information on this.

Cast and Creative


Orlando James as Will Shakespeare

Eve Ponsonby as Viola De Lesseps

Nicholas Asbury as Wessex

Neal Barry as Henslowe

Richard Bremmer as Tilney and Sir Robert De Lesseps

Paul Brennen as Fennyman

Suzanne Burden as Queen Elizabeth

Ryan Donaldson as Ned Alleyn

Edward Franklin as Marlowe

Ncuti Gatwa as Wabash

Gregg Lowe as Sam

Andy McKeane as Ralph

Peter Moreton as Burbage

Joy Richardson as Nurse

Charlie Tighe as Nol

Stuart Wilde as Webster

The ensemble cast will include Aaron Anthony, Jonno Davies, Peter Hannah, Nick Hart, Joshua Higgott, Sioned Jones, Sandy Murray, Ellie Nunn, Thomas Padden, Stevie Raine, Elliot Rennie and Florence Roberts.


Original screenplay: Marc Norman

Original screenplay: Tom Stoppard

Stage Adaptation: Lee Hall

Director: Declan Donnellan

Designer: Nick Ormerod

Music: Paddy Cunneen

Choreography: Jane Gibson

Lighting: Neil Austin

Sound: Simon Baker


What's On Stage Awards 2015

Best New Play

What we thought

ROMANCE Comedy tradegy

there is nothing more entertaining than the path of true love being intercepted by a very clever dog.

So they made a play out of Shakespeare in Love, the film responsible for Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar. And guess what? It's much better.

Read full review
Kitty McCarron

Kitty McCarron

What you thought

5 reviews, average rating: (4.3 Stars)

4.5 star rating

Roma: “Heart-warming!”

We so enjoyed the play! Viola was amazing and Kit Marlowe rather stole... more

Audrey: “Such good entertainment!”

With seats in the Grand Circle last night I thoroughly enjoyed the production... more

Read all reviews Write a review


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