Review: Shakespeare in Love at Sacramento Shakespeare Festival

The only way to land a role in Will’s new play is to completely transform yourself.

The only way to land a role in Will’s new play is to completely transform yourself.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Clarke

Showtimes: Thu 7:30pm, Sat 7:30pm. Through 8/3; $5-$25; Sacramento City College Main Auditorium 3835 Freeport Blvd., (916) 558-2228,
Rated 5.0

Sacramento Shakespeare Festival is interrupting a 32-year-old tradition of staging its summer repertoire outdoors. Because of planned renovations to the 100-year-old William Land Park amphitheater, this summer the festival is temporarily moving indoors to Sacramento City College’s Performing Arts Center.

This does make a change of atmosphere—no picnics on the grass, no stars above and no ducks quacking from the pond. But there’s still a festive feel at the new location with a food truck and picnic tables outside the auditorium, while inside are the blessed advantages of air conditioning, indoor bathrooms and seats with backs.

Shakespeare in Love opened last weekend, and the new location serves it well with a creative set reminiscent of London’s traditional two-story Globe Theatre stage.

Written by playwright Lee Hall, the story is adapted from the film of the same title, and is in many ways an improvement from the movie. The premise remains—a struggling, penniless playwright named Will Shakespeare tries to overcome writer’s block, pay off debts and break into a newly established theater world.

It’s basically plays within a play about plays. It’s a Shakespeare shaky about his craft. Not only is it fun to see how his work comes about, but also how his plots are affected by his own world.

This is a tightly directed play with strong, charming leads, period-perfect music and costumes; impressive sword fighting; and a scene-stealing dog. No outdoor stars this year, but plenty of indoor, onstage stars.