Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost plays around with melodramatic dialogue and exuberant characterisation to create a performance about infatuation.
It’s a sharp play that centres around the King of Navarre and his companions, as they vow to never even look at a woman for three years whilst they complete their study and fasting. However, shortly after the Princess of France and her ladies arrive causing the men to instantly fall in love with them.
The ladies have a certain amount of sass about them, as they decide to mock the men by disguising themselves as each other in order to confuse them. Leah Whitaker performs the role of the Princess of France excellently, her strong confidence dominates as the King of Navarre (Sam Alexander) falls at her feet. She takes this power and strides with it, as she leads the ladies into messing with the men and not instantly giving them what they desire.
The elaborate set designed by Simon Higglett creates the perfect setting for such high-class and distinguished characters. Their costume changes are frequent, as they display their finest materials and jewels throughout the performance – elevating the characters’ status. The transitions in-between scenes are swift and slick, as the staging moves from inside to out. This is enhanced by superb lighting design by Oliver Fenwick that draws the focus from the set to the characters during the more poignant moments.
The stand-out performance goes to Costard played by Nick Haverson, who brings an immense amount of humour to the role. He is completely dedicated to the role as he plays around with the character, throwing himself into the outrageous and silly nature of the butler that goes to extreme lengths in order to please.
Displaying their adoration, the men write to their ladies and there is a superb scene in which they overhear each other confessing their love for the women whilst reading from their letters. This is executed with excellent comedy timing, but it also showcases the beauty of Shakespeare’s romantic and poetic language.
The language and narrative is also enhanced by the stunning score by Nigel Hess, that has created a timely and sumptuous collection of music to transition the scenes and lift the performance. The music also animates the slapstick comedy moments, heightening the humour.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is a dynamic production that comes to a dramatic close when the Princess is told her father has died, we are left with a rather ambiguous ending and the uncertainty if they will marry or not.
On at the Manchester Opera House until the 3rd of December alongside Much Ado About Nothing, tickets can be found here.