Shakespeare’s Globe, London – 15 September 2018
Guest reviewer: Amy Toledano
Never doing anything by half, Shakespeare’s Globe’s latest rendition of Love’s Labour’s Lost pulls out all the stops with a stellar cast, bringing laughter and joy until the play’s final solemn moments. Directed by Nick Bagnall, this highly energised show is a lovely version of a Shakespeare infrequently staged play, and brings with it a message of true and pure love – and the things we are willing to surrender for them.
The Sam Wanamaker space is a perfect home for this show. The three-piece orchestra is situated on the top tier, peppering familiar themes and brilliant music throughout to underline the importance of many moments. They provide great comic effect, as well as haunting melodies that stay with you throughout. The main stage is submerged in total darkness at first, then slowly and tastefully lit by numerous candles, creating a sense of mystery and secrecy. The vibe of wonder that ties the image of the whole show together perfectly.
A vibrant cast of characters open with a dance and introduce us to the King of Navarre and his two companions Dumaine and Berowne, who have decided to take on the task of not seeing any women and studying hard for three years. This is, of course, a challenge, especially when the King is reminded that the Princess of France and her ladies are lodging nearby. The men try to woo the women in their own strange ways and after much mockery and identity confusion, it is made plain that the men love the women.
Crowd favourite is the camp Spaniard Don Armado (played by the hilarious Jos Vantyler) and his highly comical portrayal of the Spanish romantic and his Pageboy who is forever trailing by his side. Armando is tormented by his love of a common woman, and his Page offers honest and, at times, brutal advice to his master. The multi-rolling of these two characters is a fantastic skill that often falls short but Vantyler’s clear and honest portrayal of both means as an audience we always aware of who is who.
All elements of this show come together wonderfully to create a hilarious and physical show, reminding us of exactly how skilled Shakespeare was at building up our hopes and making the audience feel safe, and how quickly he can turn comedy to tragedy without a second thought.