REVIEW: Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing @ The Opera House, Manchester

lisa-dillon-leah-whitaker-paige-carter-rebecca-collingwood-in-rsc-cfts-loves-labours-lost-photo-manuel-harlan-40The Royal Shakespeare Company is in town with two productions of its highly acclaimed interpretations of two of the bard’s funniest plays.

And if you’re new to Shakespeare and are worried the whole thing will go over your head, you shouldn’t. This is Shakespearean comedy as it was intended – brash, entertaining and hilarious.

It is now generally accepted that Much Ado is the “missing” work referred to as Love’s Labour’s Won a romance linked to Love’s Labour’s Lost.

The RSC has brought together the two romances, playing on different nights, through the innovative linking of events characters and themes which makes for fabulously entertaining nights out.

The plays are  imagined either side of the First World War. with the first play centred around the consequences of an ill-considered pledge by the King and his friends to avoid the company of women for three years. No sooner have they made their idealistic oath than the Princess of France and her ladies-in-waiting arrive, presenting the men with a severe test of their high-minded resolve.

Much Ado About Nothing (Love’s Labour’s Won) sees a group of soldiers returning from the war and their attempts to find love.

Love’s Labour’s Lost conjures up the carefree elegance of a pre‑war Edwardian summer, whilst Much Ado About Nothing presents a changed world with the roaring 20s just around the corner.

lisa-dillon-edward-bennett-in-rsc-cfts-much-ado-about-nothing-photo-manuel-harlan_press-120The shows have something for everyone. Yes, there is the incredible language of Shakespeare, but it is brought to life in the most incredible way in productions which engage audiences in a wonderful concoctions of superb comic timing and slapstick humour.   I saw Noel Coward, Laurel and Hardy, Dad’s Army and Men Behaving Badly in these shows which are an absolute joy to watch.

A very strong cast works extremely well to produce a near perfect production to get you laughing out loud. Special mention has to go to Edward Bennett whose verbal sparring as Benedick with the equally superb Lisa Dillon as Beatrice is a hoot.

Whilst these shows are clearly linked, they each stand on their own. Get to see at least one of them.

Runs till Saturday December 3.

Dave Toomer


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