THE FIRST World War bookends the RSC’s forthcoming productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is set in the summer 1914, when in order to dedicate themselves to a life of study, the King and his friends take an oath to avoid the company of women for three years.
But no sooner have they made their idealistic pledge than the Princess of France and her ladies-in-waiting arrive, presenting the men with a severe test of their high-minded resolve.
Shakespeare’s comedy delights in championing and then unravelling an unrealistic vow, and mischievously suggesting the study of the opposite sex is in fact the highest of all academic endeavours.
Only at the end of the play is the merriment curtailed as the lovers agree to submit to a period apart, unaware that the world around them is about to be utterly transformed by the war to end all wars.
Love’s Labour’s Won – more commonly known as Much Ado About Nothing – follows in autumn 1918 as a group of soldiers return from the trenches.
The world-weary Benedick and his friend Claudio find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero. As memories of conflict give way to a life of parties and masked balls, Claudio and Hero fall madly, deeply in love, while Benedick and Beatrice reignite their own altogether more combative courtship.
Christopher Luscombe directs one acting company in both productions. His previous credits include The Comedy of Errors and The Merry Wives of Windsor for Shakespeare’s Globe as well as The Madness of George III and Spamalot in the West End.
Both will broadcast live to cinemas as part of ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ in the new year – Lost on February 11 and Won on March 4.
Lost opens on the RST stage in Stratford on September 23, and Won on October 3.
Visit www.rsc.org for tickets and further details.