Restoration-era luvvie-fest hits the right button
OPENS SEPTEMBER 24, CERT 15, 110 MINS
London, 1660. The theatres, banned for the past 11 years by rule of Cromwell, have been re-opened with the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. A young woman is desperate to defy convention and play the female role, which has always been performed by a man in drag. So far, so Shakespeare In Love. But this raucous adaptation of Jeffrey Hatcher’s stage play by former National Theatre artistic director Richard Eyre, is way superior to that rom-com-in-tights. Billy Crudup plays Ned Kynaston, the most beautiful man on the British stage, a legend for playing female roles. Waiting in the wings is the genuine article? Maria (Claire Danes), a stage-struck costume assistant who dreams of dying on stage as Desdemona. She gets her chance, but finds herself dying in all the wrong places?Maria, it seems, is not over-burdened with natural talent.
Danes and Crudup kick up sparks in their scenes together, and Eyre wins you over with an energetic mix of bawdy humour and quick-fire wit.