Love Labours Won

Despite the chocolate, the babes, and the reviews, it's a poor rip-off of Shakespeare's original

Review by Anna Halliday | 10 Aug 2007
The lengthy queue for Love Labours Won, which snakes all round the Gilded Balloon – along with a handful of five-star reviews – seemed to indicate that a theatrical treat was coming.

There are traces of a classic (or, more precisely, the classics) throughout. Ryan J-W Smith’s script mimicks Elizabethan language, and is smattered with modern-day references, such as a monologue against violence in the name of freedom, a fairly plain anti-Iraq dig. Also, he uses Shakespearean comic devices, including a play within a play and stock character types, but this results in no more than a watered-down version of the Bard’s humour, leaving the actors to bring amusement through slapstick gestures and well-placed comic pauses. Even so, the audience’s laughter never rose beyond a restrained snigger.

Although the actors threw themselves into their parts with great gusto and showed moments of excellence, the whole concept of copying Shakespeare left me a little confused. Perhaps Smith would have been more successful updating rather than simply recreating The Bard.

It was very unclear whether the audience would have been as big, had the flyers not promised free chocolate (which to my disappointment was never handed out), an all-female cast and nudity. Just to make sure, there was even an FHM-style shot of one gorgeous cast member (who bizarrely and for no apparent reason whips her breasts out at the end). After all, what could raise one of so many Shakespearean rip-offs above its competitors other than promises of chocolate and sex?