Shakespeare In Love at Baltimore Center Stage. Video still via Baltimore Center Stage

Baltimore Center Stage has continued its fall season with Shakespeare In Love, a theatrical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film of the same name, directed by Blake Robison, Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

Continuing a “Season of Community” at Baltimore Center Stage, where every program and production explores the role of artists and institutions in building community, Shakespeare in Love embraces the theme of “joy.” The language highlights the joy in the connectedness of the human spirit, presenting a lighthearted examination of the relationship between art and love. As with the film, the writing style of the play consciously moves away from the trademark iambic pentameter favored by Shakespeare himself, pairing a modern tone with a familiarly victorian setting. Shakespeare in Love offers plenty of direct allusions to Shakespeare, sure to delight anyone familiar with the Bard—or simply the English language — but is equally crowd-pleasing whether you can recite his sonnets by heart, or have never read a word he’s written.

“It is simply the joy that this theater can provide in turbulent times,” said BCS Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. “This joyful romp celebrates every aspect of theater, from the words on the page to the actors on stage. It is a charming tale of love, the English language, and theater itself.”

Baltimore Center Stage believes in access for all—creating a welcoming environment for everyone who enters its theater doors and, at the same time, striving to meet audiences where they are. Shakespeare in Love, whose film iteration was a pop-culture take on the Elizabethan love stories of Shakespearian times, does just that. Audience members are treated to non-stop action in the drama of mistaken identities, a shipwreck, and love triumphant, and the play is suitable for the entire family (assuming the entire family is twelve or older, and comfortable with mature themes and sexual situations).

The story of the play is centered around the character of Shakespeare himself (played by Nicholas Carriere), who falls in love with his muse, Viola (Emily Trask). Their ensuing love tale falls in synch with the story of Romeo and Juliet, which – in this play – Shakespeare happens to be writing, meaning he is only able to write one scene at a time, as his own romantic drama plays out.

“It’s a valentine to the theater, and in many ways, it’s an Elizabethan rom-com,” jokes Robinson. “There’s comedy, there’s romance. You’ll be moved. You’ll be entertained, and you’re going to laugh a lot.”

Baltimore Center Stage is a nonprofit institution, committed to entertaining, engaging and enriching audiences through bold, innovative and thought-provoking theater. In addition to its Mainstage and Off Center productions in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood, Baltimore Center Stage ignites conversations among a global audience through digital initiatives, which explore how technology and the arts intersect. The theater also hosts educational programs for students, families and educators, to nurture future thespians. With its production of Shakespeare in Love, The theater continues its commitment to presenting a diverse array of exciting interpretations of established works, in addition to creating original content, premiering and hosting original contemporary work.

Shakespeare in Love runs through Sunday, November 26. For more information, visit or call the box office at 410.332.0033.

Rachel Bone

Rachel Bone is a regular contributor to the Baltimore Fishbowl.