Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Conor Wray
For the first time since 2019, Off The Ground Theatre Company are back in the gardens of Killruddery. They have been much missed. They make their return with unconventional Shakespeare comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost. As we gathered in the outdoor Sylvan theatre there was a convivial atmosphere, fed by the treats and drinks available from the tea rooms.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is not Shakespeare’s best-known play, but it’s initial set up is ripe for a theatre company to capitalise on every moment of humour. The King of Navarre and three of his friends make an agreement: to study and fast for the next three years and not become involved with, or distracted by, women. In true Shakespearean style, the Princess of France and her three ladies arrive with the intention of discussing political matters with the King. Soon the men become infatuated and are fighting between keeping their oath, and chasing lust and love. The drama of commitments, breaking oaths, courting in secret by letter, games and parties in masks and costumes, plays out over the course of the next two hours.
The restrictions of an outdoor venue that cannot be altered force a creative response in terms of props, staging and movement. At times the actors sit on the front row with the audience, and group scenes embrace the entire space. There were minimal props, but in contrast the costumes are bright and distinctive. Using colours to denote partners makes it easier for the audience to follow, and also feeds into opportunities for the comedy of mix ups and confusion. Lighting is used to good effect, with two large spotlights trained on the actors, so as dusk turns to night, the players are still well lit and easy to follow.
Off The Ground have a wonderful tradition of including music at the close of the play, eventually brining the audience up to dance under the stars. This is an excellent way to keep the audience entertained and ensure they go home on a high. As a play it is good: entertaining, paced well, fun. As an experience, an evening out, a return to the stage after several years of shutdown, it is joyful.
Runs Until 18th August 2022 Then On Tour.