We speak to some of the cast of Shakespeare in Love about language, accents, codpieces, and the unique challenges of period costumes.
Michael Wahr (Will Shakespeare) 'The energy within his text – whether it is in its more contemporary form, or switching to Shakespeare’s poetry – helps to get into the man, the mind, and the imagination. The play is so well written that one dances through it vocally. The text leads everything for me, and inspires me, which then leads me to experiment on the floor. When speaking Shakespeare’s poetry, I think of it like playing jazz: it’s always surprising, catchy, inspiring, and takes me on a journey – and no two journeys are ever the same.'
Michael Wahr. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Claire van der Boom (Viola De Lesseps) 'The large dresses and corsets help with identifying appropriate ways of moving for the time … I’m hoping to not trip on the hem of a dress going down the steps of the steep tower. Fingers crossed! When playing Kent, I have to pay attention to using more of a chest voice and placing his accent in a lower social class.'
Michael Wahr and Claire van der Boom. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Adam Murphy (Fennyman) 'It's enjoyable to play the shift in his character ... I've tried using a strong commanding voice to make Fennyman a dominant figure. As the story progresses, he softens and so does his voice. Especially as he becomes involved in a business he’s not familiar with ... It’s exciting to incorporate dance into the play (although I have to remember whether I step off on my left or right foot), and playing the lute is an enjoyable added bonus.'
Adam Murphy (right) with Aljin Abella and Michael Wahr. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Deidre Rubenstein (Queen Elizabeth) 'Obviously a huge challenge is dealing with the beautiful but enormously cumbersome costume. It is truly like wearing a table, so it is very hard to judge distances. I cannot see my feet or see and feel to go up or down stairs. And we are on a raked stage to boot, so that further complicates things. Mercifully, I have been able to wear the skirt in the final week of rehearsals, so I am able to get more used to negotiating the costume. I have to look and feel comfortable, regal and stately.'
Deidre Rubenstein (centre) with Francis Greenslade, Daniel Frederiksen, Aljin Abella and Michael Wahr. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Tyler Coppin (Wabash) 'Wabash is a tailor. He has obviously taken great care to make sure he looks fabulous in his costumes when he goes out on stage for his moment in the spotlight. I’ve discussed this with the director, costume designer and MTC Wardrobe department, and we all agree that Wabash has spent hours and hours making his own costumes. This also adds to the character's arc. As tailors are, Wabash loves finer details. This opens up possibilities for me as an actor: What kind of details would Wabash be obsessed with?'
Tyler Coppin. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Peter Houghton (Ralph) ‘Ralph wants to play pirates and swashbucklers. But he’s a physical coward really. So I flip between his physical bravado … and his mouse-like courage. He’s fun to play – maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer – but he has a simple desire to fit in, and we can all relate to that.’
Peter Houghton (right) with Daniel Frederiksen and John Leary. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Francis Greenslade (Sir Robert) 'Sir Robert has an enormous phallic codpiece. It’s quite a flippant costume. I think he’s a man who just wants to make money. He’s come to London to make even more money, and that involves selling his daughter to Wessex in return for preferment at court. But the costume shows that he wants to enjoy his money. He’s not hoarding it; he’s buying the latest fashions, and lives in a swanky house. He enjoys life, and his codpiece is part of that. I made Sir Robert a northerner with a north country accent partly to accentuate the idea that he’s not like those high-born Londoners, he’s a man of money.'
Francis Greenslade and Daniel Frederiksen. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Published on 7 August 2019