The intimate space of the debating chamber made a fitting setting for SUDS unassuming adaptation of ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’, performed by a small but adept cast. As the lights dimmed, the music faded in, we were taken from a room in Falmer House to a student flat, a nightclub, an office, a dressing room, as we shared in the all too familiar struggle between love, work and play that played out within a group of students and the dancers they worshipped.
The original play, is unusually inaccessible, so Kristina Wilde must have had her work cut out in taking on the task of adapting this somewhat obscure comedy. I am pleased to say that on this occasion, love’s labour was not lost – she has excelled in creating a clever and engaging adaptation. The play has been updated and reworked without losing the subtlety and clever wordplay of Shakespeare’s original, which is often considered one of his most intellectual plays. The decision to set it in the playful and flirtatious 1920s, with a group of students and dancers, was a particularly shrewd choice and judging by the occasional outburst of loud laughter, one that was appreciated by the predominantly student audience.
Comedic roles were carried well by the cast, and all deserve to be commended for making the performance so accessible and humorous. Especially good were Moth (Rosemary Terry) and Don Adriano (Diego Iraheta), playing the main comedic duo and providing a diverting side-plot as excellent foil to the main plotline. I will say that the play felt a little flat in its ending, but this is understandable as the ending to the original play is similarly abrupt.
It is thought that ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ was originally written to be performed to students at the Inns of Court. While the debating chamber may not quite be the same, SUDS can congratulate themselves on translating Shakespeare’s ideas so successfully. All in all, a warm-hearted, funny and original production, a real labour of love.