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Star-Crossed Lovers

Series 1 - Episode 1 Star-Crossed Lovers

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Review

Sharp writing, nimble plotting, a studio set and a comic reworking of historic plots and tropes made Blackadder II a classic. And it’s good to see that its co-writer, Ben Elton, has returned to these strengths in his warm and highly enjoyable reimagining of Shakespeare’s life in London and Stratford.

His quick-witted reworking of Romeo and Juliet in this first episode is as smart as it is funny and David Mitchell’s William is an engaging mixture of bemused parent, smart-alec genius and withering observer.

Nostalgists will warm to the conventional feel and Elton’s 1980s-style digs at Bullingdon buffoons to complement more up-to-date targets (like Ricky Gervais, here reimagined as one of Shakespeare’s cocky actor colleagues). I also enjoyed the way Elton made Will’s home life feel very modern – replete with Harry Enfield’s mickey-taking dad, Liza Tarbuck’s sardonic wife and Helen Monks’s stroppy daughter Susanna. She seems to be the only member of the Bard’s household who is actually literate and you can’t help feeling that her dad has a particularly soft spot for her.

Summary

David Mitchell stars in Ben Elton's comedy that follows William Shakespeare as he starts to make a name for himself as a playwright in London while also trying to be a husband and father in Stratford-upon-Avon. In the first episode, Will struggles to find inspiration for Romeo and Juliet while at the same time having to deal with an angry actor, a very annoying house guest and his family's not-terribly-helpful script suggestions. With Harry Enfield, Paula Wilcox and Liza Tarbuck.

Cast & Crew

Will Shakespeare David Mitchell
Anne Hathaway Liza Tarbuck
Mary Arden Paula Wilcox
Susanna Helen Monks
John Shakespeare Harry Enfield
Kate Gemma Whelan
Bottom Rob Rouse
Robert Greene Mark Heap
Condell Dominic Coleman
Burbage Steve Speirs
Kempe Spencer Jones
Florian Kieran Hodgson
Apothecary Larrington Walker
Director Matt Lipsey
Producer Gareth Edwards
Writer Ben Elton
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Sitcom