Love's Labour's Lost

Tue 24th – Sat 28th October 2017

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 13:00 on 25th Oct 2017

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If you like dense and often self-consciously ridiculous wordplay, if you think that scansion problems and forced rhymes are super funny, if you've got a smattering each of Latin and Middle English and you fancy giving them an outing, then you should definitely go and see Love's Labour's Lost. If you don't like some of those things, go see it anyway. The ADC's production of what might just be Shakespeare's silliest play (directed by Clara van Wel) is a rollicking good time. You'll laugh, then laugh some more. With lovely set design, great music and a strong cast, this show will have you captivated from beginning to end.

The show is being billed as an adaptation set in Cambridge in 1938. This decision certainly gave the show an excellent excuse for lots of great, 1920s and 1930s Jazz (sound design by Jacob Baldwin), and inspired a wonderful set (designed by Jack Parham). The book-linked study in which much of the action takes place looked warm and welcoming, with lots of interesting nooks and crannies, and had a couple of tricks up its sleeve too. Initially, I didn't think the setting did much more than this. There didn't seem to be a particularly strong feminist bent on the whole thing (not that the play was anti-feminist, it just didn't seem to take a position either way). But at the close of the play, which I certainly won't spoil, a simple costume change, and a haunting soundtrack choice put a decidedly dark spin on things. This change of tone was very well-handled, and certainly played on the audience-members' minds as they left the theatre.

The cast of the show were very strong, and wrung much humour out of even Shakespeare's most terrible puns, while adding wonderful physical comedy. Emma Corrin was beautiful and elegant as the Princess of France, and Sarah Creedy Smith and Ania Magliano-Wright both did excellently in their cross-dressing roles. The King of Navarre's (Will Gould) gang, Joe Sefton as Berowne, Stanley Thomas as Dumain and Toby Waterworth as Longaville were just excellent - they were funny and warm, and they did an amazing dance while disguised as Muscovites. One final mention must go to Henry Wilkinson as Armado, for a hilarious performance that made you wish he could be on stage more often.

Love's Labour's Lost is really, really stupid. Until the ending, it's easy to feel like there's nothing at stake but stupid in-jokes and mutual shaming among the King's perjured men. But It's also wonderfully enjoyable, hugely funny, and ultimately even a bit poignant. Don't miss this one. Go along, have a drink at the bar to get the laughter flowing, sit back, and enjoy.

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