For the theatre's first full in-house production, since opening in January 2008, Sir Peter Hall chose one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays. With an emphasis on the wordiness of this work, the stage set is plain - in the way it would have been during the author's time - with just the bare wooden floor, two simple ladders and only a more ornate wrought-iron gate. So the dialogue becomes the star of the show.
Centering around four male 'students' who, at the outset, swear-off the lure of females and supposedly all the temptations of love, it's the perfect opportunity for a comedy of errors. With Shakespeare revelling in his puns, it requires quite a lot of concentration from the audience, as it conveys more serious points about the significance of maturity and relationships. As Berowne tells us: ...love is full of unbefitting strains.
Finbar Lynch is an effective, impressive Berowne (although more advanced in years than Shakespeare would have intended) he delivers (often lengthy) speeches with impact and a lightness of touch. Greg Haiste as Costard injects impressive hilarity and moments of mirth. Rachel Pickup is beautifully regal as the Princess of France, combining serenity, seriousness and a mischievous streak. Peter Bowles is a brilliant, bold, lovelorn Don Adriano de Armado.
The production runs until November 15th.
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