Shakespeare Solved ®

Shakespeare Solved ® is a forthcoming series of novels that covers the Bard's entire life and work.

These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Royal Shakespeare Company Love's Labour's Lost

I just saw the RSC production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

It’s fantastic!

It was shown through the RSC Live From Stratford-Upon-Avon series of films.

This production of the play is famous for pairing it together with Love’s Labour’s Won, which may have been another title for Much Ado About Nothing.

I will be seeing Love’s Labour’s Won next week, so please check back for my thoughts about that.

But this Lost was so wonderful, I couldn’t wait to tell you about it immediately.

Don’t miss it! It is so funny, and so entertaining, you should definitely see it.

You can find out where and when it is playing near you here:

This production was staged last year in London, on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

Also, the play is set in an idyllic and dreamy summer of 1914, right before the “war to end all wars” that claimed nearly 40 million lives.

The Love’s Labour’s Won play is set after the war.

The costumes, setting, and music is reminiscent of the pre-war Downtown Abbey episodes, and Shakespeare’s plot, characters and comedy is a perfect fit for this time period.

But what may look like a clever choice of setting has deeper and more sober resonance. In this telling of the play, we now have a sense of impending danger and loss. We feel, underneath the frivolity and war of the sexes between Lords and Ladies, there is a real war coming that will exact a heavy toll.

It is wonderful to see the sparks fly, the playful chemistry between Berowne and Rosaline in this production. But I can also tell that these characters will transform into Benedict and Beatrice in Love’s Labour’s Won, and the emotional journey they have each traveled to find each other will be more poignant. 

I anticipate their union will be more emotionally moving and satisfying than in any other Much Ado About Nothing production I have ever seen.

But in the meantime, this Lost is hilarious! A round of applause for director Christopher Luscombe and his brilliant cast, who do everything they can to mine the play for humour and make the most of every moment. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard throughout an entire Shakespeare play.

There are expected moments of laughter, especially with Don Armado, and lots of unexpected jokes and gags all over the place. I especially enjoyed the gag of Costard looking around to see where the music is coming from! Priceless!

Michelle Terry as Rosaline is terrific! She is beautiful and whipsmart — the most formidable Rosaline I have ever seen. Ms. Terry was also wonderful as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe last year.

Michelle Terry as Rosaline

The chemistry between her and Edward Bennett as Berowne is thrilling. Every time they were apart I couldn’t wait until they had a moment together, and every time they were together I never wanted them to part. She and Mr. Bennett are great actors in their own right, but put together they create a brilliance that is so truly rare, like lightning in a bottle.

Mr. Bennett, who has done a great deal of Shakespeare in his career, was not what I expect when I think of Berowne. But he makes the role his own, and it seems so effortless. I have to think that I have seen what might be the definitive portrayal of this character I have ever seen. 

Edward Bennett as Berowne

I will have to buy the DVD of this production. It is worth studying and enjoying his and Ms. Terry’s performances over and over again.

The rest of the cast is superb, and they each have moments where they shine. But as much as it is an ensemble, there are times when each actor seems to steal the show. 

Of course that is how Shakespeare wanted his play to be performed, and his actors, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, were all hams and experienced at scene-stealing. 

But it is also a testament to the talent in this ensemble. They more than rise to the occasion and make the play as ruthlessly entertaining as possible.

Trust me that they will all get you to laugh, and laugh often!

I will write more about this exciting Love’s Labour’s Lost and Won next week, but in the meantime, please do yourself a favour and find a theatre near you so you can see these wonderful productions.


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