Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labour's Lost at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre 2007

RSC's Love's Labour's Lost 2016

Love's Labour's Lost at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre 2007

Previewed 1 July 2007, Opened 11 July 2007, Closed 7 October 2007 at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London

The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London presents William Shakespeare's play Love's Labour's Lost during the 2007 Season. Self-denial is in fashion at the court of Navarre where the young King and three of his courtiers solemnly forswear all pleasures in favour of serious study. But the Princess of France and her all-too-lovely entourage have other ideas and it isn't long before young love, with its glad eyes, hesitations and embarrassments, has broken every self-imposed rule of the all-male 'academe'.

Shakespeare's boisterous send-up of all those who try to turn their back on life, is a festive parade of every weapon in the youthful playwright's comic arsenal: from excruciating cross-purposes and impersonations, to drunkenness, bust-ups and pratfalls. Even more, it is a joyful banquet of language, groaning with puns, rhymes, bizarre syntax, grotesque coinages and parodies. This heady combination enjoys its first outing at the Globe this season.

William Shakespeare's play Love's Labour's Lost in London is directed by Dominic Dromgoole and features designs by Jonathan Fensom. This production will employ Renaissance staging, costume and music. Dominic Dromgoole is the Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe and last year directed Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra here. Jonathan Fensom's recent theatre work includes Journey's End (West End and Broadway), Talking to Terrorists (Royal Court and tour) and Smaller (West End).

"Dominic Dromgoole and his designer, Jonathan Fensom, have extended Shakespeare's knot-garden metaphor into the pit, with angled walkways that hardly feel authentic, but create refreshingly unusual spaces and plunge the actors deep into the audience. This is a play about wordplay, and the knotted language takes time to untangle... Dromgoole enlivens these dialogues with music, inventive comic action and a flash of bare-bummed bawdy... As a moral contrast to the at times heavy humour, the end twist works beautifully. It's like a Dream, minus the fairie." The Sunday Times

"A Shakespeare text shot through with a surplus of wordplay that, quite frankly, can be a labour to sit through... A Welsh-accented Trystan Gravelle captures both the rhetorician in the ardent Berowne as well as the blokishness appropriate to a play about testosterone on parade, and as the most silken-cheeked of the women wooed, Gemma Arterton makes a smashing theatrical debut as Rosaline, a performance teasing and touching in turn. Among the older actors, Christopher Godwin takes a commendably puckish approach to Holofernes... As per the Globe norm, Dominic Dromgoole's variable production ends with a characteristically exuberant Globe curtain call to send its audience out in a mood of high exultation. 'Honest plain words best pierce the air of grief,' remarks Berowne. So do the bows at Shakespeare's Globe." The Observer

"Before anything else is said, Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe's director, should be praised for taking on Love's Labour's Lost. So convoluted is the repartee, so hard the range of poetic allusion, parody and pastiche for modern ears that it requires a director of great learning and intuition to bring shape to its rag-bag of scenes... Dromgoole, alas, is not the director to mould these elements into a satisfying whole, and by the end of the evening I had no idea what his production had to say about learning, love, the battle of the sexes, indeed any of the themes in Shakespeare's rich, but flashy text. The biggest laugh of the evening was provided by an exchange between the schoolmaster Holofernes and a character named Dull: 'Thou hast spoken no word all this while.' 'Nor understood none neither, sir.' It's a good joke, but the production is not robust enough to bear the weight of the irony.'" The Sunday Telegraph

Love's Labour's Lost in London at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre previewed from 1 July 2007, opened on 11 July 2007 and closed on 7 October 2007

RSC's Love's Labour's Lost

Previewed 12 December 2016, Opened 17 December 2016, Closed 18 March 2017 at the Haymarket Theatre Royal

The Royal Shakespeare Company present a major revival of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost in London, playing in repertory with Much Ado About Nothing for a strictly limited season

Summer 1914. In order to dedicate themselves to a life of study, the King and his friends take an oath to avoid the company of women for three years. No sooner have they made their idealistic pledge than the Princess of France and her ladies-in-waiting arrive, presenting the men with a severe test of their high-minded resolve.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, with choreography by Jenny Arnold, designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Oliver Fenwick, music by Nigel Hess and sound by Jeremy Dunn.

This production was originally seen at the RSC's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (previewed from 23 September 2014, opened on 15 October 2014 and closed on 14 March 2015, played in repertory), it will transfer here to the Haymarket Theatre following a run at the Chichester Festival Theatre (from 29 September to 29 October 2016). Christopher Luscombe's West End credits include Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre in 2016; the musical Monty Python's Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre on 2012; and Alan Bennett's 1980 comedy Enjoy Gielgud Theatre in 2009.

When this production opened here at London's Haymarket Theatre in December 2016, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "Christopher Luscombeís cross-cast productions are visually sumptuous. Set either side of the First World War in an oak-panelled manor house, their looks and tone conjure up the spirit of Downton Abbey, while Nigel Hessís music calls to mind Cole Porter and Ivor Novello." Dominic Maxwell in the The Times said that "this is an utterly delightful double act that can be seen independently but which together adds up to more than the sum of its parts." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times explained that "there's an added poignancy undercutting the merriment: in Love's Labour's Lost, for instance, we realise that the four daft, callow young men with their rather juvenile plans are likely to find themselves in the trenches before long. This tinge of melancholy brings extra shadows to the comedy, which is rather bigger on wordplay than depth of character... These dark tones aside, Luscombe and his company play the comedy with sprightly ťlan...It's enjoyably acted by a nimble ensemble." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph commented that "a superficially damning judgment would be that this is the gooiest form of chocolate-box Shakespeare. But in making themselves at home in these picturesque surrounds, the 22-strong ensemble also inhabit the plays with an assurance that means abstruse jokes have rare clarity and vim."

When this production opened at the RSC's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in October 2014, Ian Shuttleworth in The Financial Times praised it as being "one of the most successful speculative yokings-together of Shakespearean plays that I have ever seen." Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph hailed the production as being "the most blissfully entertaining and emotionally involving RSC offering I've seen in ages. Parallels between the two works - the sparring wit, the sex-war skirmishes, the shift from showy linguistic evasion to heartfelt earnestness - become persuasively apparent. Everything is in clear focus and the ensemble appears galvanised by the workload." Michael Billington in The Guardian thought that "this imaginative pairing" makes "makes total sense... My objection to his approach to the first play is that he treats it too much like operetta... this entirely misses the point that the pageant is a clumsy debacle that releases a jesting cruelty among the male spectators, shortly destined for the trenches. There is good acting all round, but I emerged feeling a great text had been needlessly titivated." Patrick Marmion for the Daily Mail said that it's "amazing to think the RSC has never twinned these plays before: they make a very happy couple... The really clever thing is the way Luscombe's casting creates continuity between characters across the plays... Catch one or the other. Or both if you can." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard commented that "it's such a clever idea to join two of Shakespeare's most sparkling romantic comedies by setting them in the shadow of the First World War. As presented by director Christopher Luscombe and a skilfully cross-cast company of actors, Love's Labour's Lost now unfolds in that last gilded Edwardian summer pre-war before ending presciently with a death... this is a classy, thoughtfully-conceived double helping of Shakespeare." Sam Marlowe in The Times highlighted that "the action is adorned by a glorious score by Nigel Hess that deftly references music hall, Gilbert and Sullivan, Ivor Novello and NoŽl Coward with full-scale numbers that enliven enormously the sequences of broader knockabout Shakespearean comedy, most notably the potentially tedious pageant scene in Love's Labour's Lost. This is, in its entirety, an endeavour that sings: poignant, impassioned and gorgeous."

RSC Love's Labour's Lost in London at the Haymarket Theatre with previewed from 12 December 2016, opened on 17 December 2016 and closed on 18 March 2017.