Wednesday, October 12, 2016


RSC/Chichester Festival Theatre
This joyous double bill is revived here before touring to Manchester and coming into the West End.
Christopher Luscombe sets the two plays in a country house – Charlcote, a stone's throw from Stratford-on-Avon, just before and just after the Great War.
Love's Labour's Lost I reviewed in Stratford, but this time had the enormous pleasure of seeing them both on the same day.
Love's Labours Won may or may not have been an alternative title for Much Ado About Nothing. But the pairing works beautifully, especially since Edward Bennett and Lisa Dillon takes the leading couple in each play.
Like the LLL, LLW is quite heavily cut, which allows for Nigel Hess's gorgeous music [Harry Waller singing Sigh No More] and pacy progress through the complex plots.
Perhaps taking a hint from Biron's “twelve-month in a hospital”, the Big House is, at the start, commandeered for the wounded. And the war is never quite forgotten: Don John [Sam Alexander] is clearly a broken man, and poor old Dogberry [Nick Haverson, a wonderful Costard in the afternoon] is probably shell-shocked. He is left alone and weeping for a moment - “a fellow that hath had losses...”. But still manages to get more laughs than most from the clowning, especially a hilarious physical routine in the cramped prison.
Bennett has his share of pantomime too – not a dirty word, Luscombe made clear in his pre-show interview – eavesdropping on his deceivers from within the tall Christmas tree in Charlecote's imposing parlour.

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