FRINGE REVIEW – Love’s Labours Lost


Year Out Drama Company’s Story Shakespeare tells a Shakespeare play in simplified form, greatly cut, updating the language and some of the ideas and making it a clear tale for all the family. For this Fringe, with no set and unremarkable lighting, their one year course acting students present Love’s Labour’s Lost – a fun comedy about oaths and wooing that has a curious ending which shifts the mood somewhat and needs to be well-handled, which this company achieves.

Love’s Labour’s Lost follows the affairs of four noble students who swear they will not have anything to do with women, only to be visited by their perfect matches with whom they fall immediately in love, leaving them trying to hide this from their fellow oath-swearers and then wondering how to woo believably after having sworn such vows. Meanwhile others at the court have their own little romantic difficulties to clear up and entertainments to put on.

This Story Shakespeare version entertains splendidly with the aid of well-placed ensemble dance and song that has clear voices beautifully harmonising, though they could be a little more tightly together. There is a light touch on the humour and the successful creation of believable characters within such a fast, pared down script, is admirable. The wit and silliness of the four pairs of lovers matching the courts of Navarre and France is played clearly and with plenty of energy and humour, while the comic lovers – a puffed up idiot and a cunning fool after the same flirtatious girl – are very well cast, with confident performances. Even the overly comic minor characters manage to steer clear of going too over the top while still being strongly realised and recognisable caricatures.

Ideas and motivations are cleverly updated and clarified – there is a certain amount of dubious action in Shakespeare’s play that seems just for fun rather than being robust under logical scrutiny – and there is a real sense of fun to this production. The company is double cast, so chorus and main players exchange roles through the run, but from what can be seen at one sitting, this is a strong ensemble so it should not matter which casting one watches.

If you are looking for the story of Love’s Labours Lost, told with wit and musical accompaniment, Year Out Drama Company’s Story Shakespeare is a grand show to catch, already proving popular, and even if you are rather fond of Shakespeare’s language you can still enjoy the parallels in this updated tale, well told.

15 – 20 August, 11:05 (11:55) @ C Venues – C too

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