Stratford Upon Avon
RSC – Stratford upon Avon
Runs: 2h 45m, one interval, till 14 March 2015

Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 01 11 14

Well and happily won.
Christopher Luscombe decided to pair MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING with his production of LOVE’S LABOURS LOST – positing the notion (quite reasonably) that it’s Shakespeare’s lost play LOVE’S LABOURS WON. In their WWI context and in Simon Higlett’s fine stately home setting, they do indeed make a good pair. There is just enough in common for each play to shed light on the other; they are stand-alone though. Seeing one is fine; seeing the pair is a bonus.

Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry are excellent Benedick and Beatrice. Bennett never pushes too hard at the prickly bachelor and the love he finds is charmingly understated and all the more real for it. It is not easy to warm to Beatrice at the opening, but how her vivacious wit draws us in; she takes us on a great journey therefore, and we, like Benedick, love her for it. She is fabulous in the wedding scene – taking the arc up, not to ‘Kill Claudio’ as we might expect, but to a passionate and chilling, ‘I’d eat his hear in the market place.’

This is a production that offers a host of strong performances. Tunji Kasim and Flora Spencer-Longhurst (Claudio and Hero) put their love story centre stage – so that it’s hard to tell which love story mirrors which. The axis of this LOVE’S LABOURS WON changes while their story holds sway.

John Hodgkinson’s impressive figure imposes a strong princely presence as Don Pedro; he convinces us that blue blood runs in his veins.

Occasionally the production strives too hard to achieve comedic effect and the play world falters which is a shame. But these moments are few and far between. And we head, happily towards the strains of ‘Come live with me and be my love’ with a big smile on our faces.

Sam Alexander – Don John
Peter Basham – Butler
William Belchambers – Conrade
Edward Bennett – Benedick
Nick Haverson – Dogberry
John Hodgkinson – Don Pedro
David Horovitch – Leonato
Tunji Kasim – Claudio
Sophie Khan Levy – Housemaid
Oliver Lynes – Soldier
Emma Manton – Margaret
Chris McCalphy – Sexton
Frances McNamee – Ursula
Peter McGovern – George Seacoal
Chris Nayak – Borachio
Jamie Newall – Friar Francis
Roderick Smith – Verges
Flora Spencer-Longhurst – Hero
Michelle Terry – Beatrice
Harry Waller – Balthasar
Thomas Wheatley – Antonio

Director – Christopher Luscombe
Designer – Simon Higlett
Lighting – Oliver Fenwick
Music – Nigel Hess
Sound – Jeremy Dunn
Movement – Jenny Arnold

2014-11-02 18:17:56

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