Love’s Labour

The RSC live stream of Love’s Labour’s Lost was my first experience of theatre at that cinema, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. The production was absolutely glorious: a beautiful set, exquisite music, and one of the wittiest interpretations of a Shakespeare play that I have ever seen.

Throughout the showing and afterwards I was reflecting on how the cast came to discover so many wonderful moments and hone their characterisations – I imagine that the rehearsal room must have been a wonderful place, brimming with creativity across a whole range of specialisms – actors, directors, musicians, composers, dancers and choreographers. I want every rehearsal room I work in to have something of this freedom and love.

I say love, since the company were clearly loving every minute of their show, and in one monologue, Shakespeare himself details the power that love can have:

“[Love] with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye;
A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover’s ear will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopp’d:
Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible
Than are the tender horns of cockl’d snails;
Love’s tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste:
For valour, is not Love a Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?
Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical
As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair:
And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.”

A very stirring description, which will stick with me for a long time.

The touching story of four pairs of lovers, however does not come to fruition. Apologies if this constitutes a spoiler, but the title does suggest the Labour of Love may be Lost: As with various other great stories the tone is deftly inverted from lighthearted comedy to somber poignancy, a technique which, correctly realised, makes for a very moved audience.

In line with the nice Shakespearean comedy endings the audience expects its four weddings, but instead we face the preparation for a funeral – the ladies go into mourning, and the men (in this setting), to the front in Flanders.

With the thousands of others in cinemas throughout the country (even the world) and of course those present in the RST, I went home that night with my head spinning. Reliving the comedy and lamenting the denied satisfaction of an unresolved love story.

However, I hope my fellow audience members will share with me the faith that despite this play’s denouement (more an earthquake than a hiccup), Love’s Labour will eventually, inevitably be won. Time will tell – on March 4th at a screening of Much Ado About Nothing (which is being plugged by the RSC as Love’s Labour’s Won) I hope to finally get my wedding sans funeral.

I wholeheartedly recommend this show to anyone and everyone, and I urge you to keep an eye out for future screenings (http://onscreen.rsc.org.uk).

Or if you have the good fortune being from Warwickshire, or live close by, treat yourself to some tickets (http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/).

You will not be disappointed.

 

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