Laborious loveliness

Love’s Labours Lost
St John’s Gardens
Mon-Weds 6.30pm
Rating: 4/5

Love’s Labour’s Lost opens with four men vowing to give up all women (and only sleep for three hours each night) for the next three years, in order to devote all their energies to studying.

Freshers may have some sympathy for this situation. What ensues is a tangle of romances as all the men promptly fell in love with French princesses, courtiers, and wenches.

St John’s Mummers have chosen this rarely performed Shakespearian play for their annual garden show and should be credited for their choice.

The company have cut many of the more obscure scenes to make the most of the Bard’s RomCom. And the result is real hilarity. Not “I’m laughing because I get a joke in Shakespeare” laughing, but proper laughing.

The standout performance, however, is Joel Philamore’s Berown. All six foot something of him exudes confidence as the heartthrob.

All seventeen members of this large cast are members of St John’s, which makes for a ridiculously talented college. Everyone is confident and entertaining in their role.

A bit more subtlety could improve the performances of some of the more overtly comical characters. Costard, the clown and Anthony Dull have some very witty lines and don’t need to overplay them.

This production has all the elements of a fabulous garden show: a stunning location, a great cast and a romp of a play. So pack a picnic basket with strawberries and champagne, borrow a blanket and soak up some sun and Shakespeare at St John’s.