by T.E. Klunzinger
With Shakespeare, language is pleasure and pleasure is language; so it is too with “Shakespeare in Love,” which opened Thursday evening at Peppermint Creek. It is that rare, large production in which nobody and nothing lacks precision.
The show starts when you walk in and sit down: the faux-theater set fills the relatively small space with pillars and staircases and balconies. Are we back at the Globe, or what? And then the play begins.
You can’t relax for a minute – a good thing – lest you miss even a single word of the script tightly descended from the Oscar-winning screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman. While it borrows liberally from actual Shakespeare, the poetry of its language is every bit the equal of the original, but spoken in modern idiom.
Joe Clark is totally endearing and commands our affection as Mr. S, who as seen here in 1593 is desperately hustling plays for sixpence but has, alas, lost his muse; except that he first finds one in fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe, who helps him approach the unapproachable Viola, the fetching Hannah Fueka. She is a merchant’s daughter about to be married off for money but she secretly loves the theater and, well, it goes on from there.
The solid supporting cast includes competing theater entrepreneurs Jeff Boerger, Michael Shalley, Chad Swan-Badgero and Johnny Mocny, all bluster and swagger and do-or-die egos as they badger good Will for a play that will be exciting, funny and feature pirates and, it is hoped, a dog to please Queen Elizabeth.
As said Queen, Laura Croff wields attitude like a battle-axe, demolishing pompous pretenders while recognizing true love, valour and compassion.
Director George Popovich, new to Lansing and retired from Henry Ford College in Dearborn, should be justly proud of this fabulously ambitious and successful show in which pretty much everything works. Even the dog is good.
“Shakespeare in Love” is at Peppermint Creek Theater on Miller Road through October 28, with shows Thursday-Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm.