"Love's Labour's Lost:" (seen at the afternoon performance on 14th January
2017). As English a setting as one could get, and a comedy as funny as only
the British know how. A remarkable roof-top scene for lovelorn men is a
highlight, with William Belchambers (Longaville) and Tunji Kasim (Dumaine) in
particular playing the heck out of it. Lovely comedy - "Bobby Ball" style - from
Nick Haverson as a postally confused gardener and Chris McCalphy as a dry Dull
police officer, John Arthur (Sir Nathaniel) and Steven Pacey (Holofernes) the
perfect foils. Oh, and don't miss Peter McGovern (Moth) and his routine.
For the ladies, Emma Manton is an eye-catching dairymaid, with the French court
of Leah Whitaker (Princess), Lisa Dillon (Rosaline), Rebecca Collingwood
(Katharine) and Paige Carter (Maria) a bunch of witty women whose entrapment of
the Navarre Court could never be in doubt.
Add Christopher Luscombe's smooth direction and Simon Higlett's Charlecote Park
based setting, and the result is a little bit of magic. The monkey can't wait
until it sees the "second half" of this talented ensemble's work.
"Much Ado About Nothing (Love's Labour's Won)" (seen at the afternoon
performance on 4th February 2017:
Acknowledged as the stronger of the pair in this presentation, the monkey isn't
arguing. That isn't to take anything from the other, but this is a riot
practically from start to finish. Edward Bennett's Benedick takes much of the
credit. You may never look at a pair of curtains and a Christmas tree in the
same way again. With Lisa Dillon's Beatrice on his case too, the sparks are
furious and every verbal blow lands with the skill of boxing champions.
There's much to be said for the pairing of Tunji Kasim and Rebecca Collingwood
as Claudio and Hero, too. His passion is clear and command of the text
impressive. Her timing and characterisation have the audience begging for the
right ending. With fine support from an ensemble, worth noting Jamie Newall as
quick-witted Friar Francis and Roderick Smith as Verges, foil to a slightly
uneven Nick Haverson's Dogberry, this is a team who literally dance up a storm
by the end of the evening.
The only fault in this immaculate staging is in Dogberry's cottage. Playing
speed and awkward staging throws potential comedy gold into audience-bemusing
slow-motion. An odd mis-step, but soon overlooked, fortunatly.
If you can see only one, make it this, but it is far better to see both. A rare
chance to watch a talented company - not to be missed.