Last night the RSC live cinema transmission presented Much Ado as Love’s Labour’s Won, contending that the latter is not a ‘lost’ play but merely in possession of two titles.
Thanks to Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon I cannot entertain that thesis – it is obvious that Shakespeare must have spent his life trying to write his masterpiece Love’s Labour Wunne, continually interrupted and impatiently knocking out Hamlet, Twelfth Night and so forth to keep his manager happy.
However I agree that Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado make an excellent pair, especially set on either side of the Great War. I was more than happy with the first, but somehow couldn’t get on so well with last night’s Love’s Labour’s Won. It would be difficult to say why; most of the principal actors have roles in both plays, and are very good, the sets are modified versions of the same set, the music is by the same composer. It just didn’t seem to pull together as a production: the texture was lumpy. The main spoiler, for me, was the low life characters, as I found them neither funny nor touching. I had a good time, but that last touch of magic wasn’t there.
Not that it will stop me signing up for the next showings. After years of RSC starvation, I need to get a quota in.