I’m just back from London. A quick two-days-and-a-half trip to see Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward – again – before it closes.
Second cast… what can I say? They were great, but somewhat less… polished than the original cast. Less experienced, I guess. Less subtle in many little ways – so that the aura of sheer perfection I had observed the first time was no longer there. But they were still great, and the play itself, the direction, the stage, lighting and costuming are a joy.
It was also interesting to observe the little changes that inevitably must intervene when a play runs for a long time – though I must wonder at one particular thing: when I first saw the show, Kit Marlowe spoke of his latest (and last, though he didn’t know it at the time) play, The Massacre at Paris. This time, he referred instead to Edward II, with no mention of the Massacre… I wonder why was that. Did anyone suggest that perhaps the Massacre was never performed during Kit’s life? But then, what of the “Tragedy of the Guise”, played by Lord Strange’s Men in January 1593? Or was it because Ned Alleyn may have been the original Guise, but not the original Edward – and the play shows Kit arguing over payment with Richard Burbage instead? And Burbage might have been with Pembroke’s Men – though perhaps not when they first acted Edward II… I’m venturing on dangerous ground, I know – but still, I can’t help wondering: why Edward and not the Massacre this time?
Ah well, it’s one of those things – and the fact remains that I’m in love with this play – and, if my aspiration, novel-wise, is to write something approaching the depth and intensity of Conrad’s Lord Jim, I think I might also dream, when it comes to the stage, of approaching the clever brightness of Norman, Stoppard and Hall’s Shakespeare in Love.