“Can a play show us the very truth and nature of love?” (Norman/Stoppard 94) This question, posed by the Queen in the form of a bet, serves as the basis for the play Shakespeare in Love. Although Shakespeare in Love was written as a screenplay in order to serve as the basis for the film of the same title, it can be analysed like a regular play. On the whole there are two scenes which deal precisely with the issue if a play is able to show the truth and nature of love. The first passage that seems eager to give answer to this question is the rehearsal scene, where the theatre group rehearses Romeo and Juliet in the Rose Theatre (71-84). The second important passage is the final stage performance where Will and Viola enact the parts of the lovers Romeo and Juliet. These two passages are vitally important for the analysis of the distinct shifting between story reality and play-within-the-play and therefore will the main focus lie on them. This essay will have its main emphasis on the functioning and development of the shifting between story reality and play-within-the-play in order to answer the question whether a play can show the very truth and nature of love.
The Shifting between Story World and Play-Within-The-Play
The shifting between the two levels becomes obvious when taking a close look at the passage on page 71. The setting is the Rose Theatre and the first scene begins right in the middle of rehearsal when “Romeo” and “Juliet” kiss for the first time. Sam enacts the part of Juliet and Viola is cross-dressed as Romeo. The love relationship between Viola and Will already exists and the amorous tension between them interrupts the rehearsal several times. The rehearsal grinds to the first halt when Viola forgets her lines because Will distracts her with an“intimate secret look”(72). The second interruption happens when Viola and Sam have to kiss onstage. Will is not content with their performance. He takes over Sam’s part as Juliet and shows him how to properly kiss Romeo. Will puts lots of effort in the execution of the kiss which annoys Alleyn: “Why do not I write the rest of your play while you – (73:19-20)“. The emotions shown in the play-within-the-play seem to force the protagonists to add their own real emotions to it. The play begins to mingle with the story world.