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Love’s Labour’s Lost - Royal Shakespeare Company

Reviewed by Mark Johnson
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

A new era begins at the Royal Shakespeare company as new co-Artistic Directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey begin their first season with a new production of Love’s Labour’s Lost directed by Emily Burns.

Brandon Bassir, Luke Thompson, Abiola Okokoniran and Eric Stroud. Photo by Johan Persson.

Burns sets her version of Navarre as a paradise island the Pacific Ocean where the wealthy can escape for some peace and tranquility. 

Here we meet Ferdinand (Abiola Okokoniran), ruler of Navarre, who welcomes Berowne (Luke Thompson), Longaville (Eric Stroud) and Dumaine (Brandon Bassir) who upon arrival to the island agree to a three year oath of self-improvement, which means giving up the company women. Here the characters also give up their mobile phones for safe keeping.

The oath goes out the window upon the arrival of Princess (Melanie-Joyce Bermudez), accompanied by Rosaline (Ioanna Kimbook), Katherine (Amy Griffiths) and Maria (Sarita Gabony), who seeks to recover the land of Aquitaine from Ferdinand whilst her father is on his death bed. 

The comedy begins as letters are delivered wrong and in a scene of great humour the boys each one by one overhear each others own confessions of love and thus breaking the oath. There’s hanging from various parts of the set and some great slapstick moments. 

Much of the laughter comes from Jack Bardoe’s excellently delivered Spanish braggart Don Armado and Nathan Foad’s rather silly Costard. The pair both ham up things to one hundred and are a constant lift to the production, as does Tony Garnder as Holofernes. Jordan Metcalfe is also brilliant as Boyet and has some great moments of comedy. The Nine Worthies pageant is farcical good fun with card board costumes made of recycled boxes.

Amy Griffiths, Ioanna Kimbook and Sarita Gabony. Photo by Johan Persson.

The relationships are superbly pitched by all with Thompson’s character becomes more settled once the attraction with Kimbook’s Rosaline who is cleverly played showing both attraction and strength in her own conviction. 
Bermudez shows great control as Princess, she’s wonderfully bright whilst also showing great authority when needed. As the play heads to its end, which is well navigated by director Burns, Bermudez shows emotion that make it land and becomes more emotional for it.

This well assembled company is given a great playground of a set with Joanna Scotcher’s awesome design impressing. The island is well imagined with Neil Austin’s warm lighting scheme. The island becomes a tropical spa with benches, it also becomes a golf course with a golf buggy and it never stops visually being impactful.

Burns wrestles with the language giving it slight modernisations but ultimately its hilarity and its heart are what you leave. The moving ending very quickly shifts the tone and can be difficult to navigate but here it’s done beautifully.

As the new era begins, audiences should rightfully be excited about what lies ahead.  If it’s all of this high quality then audiences in Stratford-Upon-Avon and beyond are to be richly rewarded and entertained. Delightful to watch. 


Love’s Labour’s Lost plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company until Saturday 18th May 2024. Tickets are available from

Jordan Metcalfe, Tony Gardner and Company.

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