One of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies, Love\'s Labour\'s Lost tells of what happens when the King of Navarre persuades three friends to join him in a vow of celibacy so that they can concentrate on their studies, only to be instantly tested by the arrival of the beautiful princess of France and her three gorgeous ladies in waiting on an informal visit. This production marks the RSC’s first staging of the play in over 12 years.
Tennant, who plays the sharp-witted Berowne, is joined by Mariah Gale as the Princess of France, Nina Sosanya as Rosaline, Edward Bennett as the Duke of Navarre and Oliver Ford Davies as Holofernes. Other ensemble members include Sam Alexander, Joe Dixon, Tom Davey, Katherine Drysdale and Riann Steele. The production is directed by RSC chief associate Gregory Doran (who also helmed Hamlet) and designed by Francis O\'Connor.
“Lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place” seemed an apt choice of phrase for the production’s critical reception. But despite not receiving the unanimous raves that greeted Hamlet, there was certainly no shortage of praise, particularly for the performances. Tennant stole the limelight with a take on Berowne that “has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand”, while critics found him ably supported by the “hilarious ridiculousness” of Joe Dixon as Don Armado and Oliver Ford Davies’ “earnest pedant” Holofernes. Others were less keen on the production as a whole, which one critic described as a “broad brush-strokes” interpretation of one of the Bard’s most challenging works.
- by Theo Bosanquet