2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, and for that reason this year affords fans of the bard a huge number of opportunities to experience his work. Taking into account the many offerings from the BBC and from theatre companies around the country, there are just too many to list. However, Oxford may be better supplied than almost anywhere else.
Shakespeare Oxford 2016 is a huge festival created by a consortium of Oxford-based organisations. Collectively, these organisations are making a large chunk of Shakespeare's work available through stage productions, film, and dance as well as putting on numerous talks and exhibitions. Having set out to absorb as much Shakespeare as I can in this special year, I caught Love's Labour's Lost performed by the Oxford Shakespeare Company in the gardens of Wadham College.
I can't recommend this production enough. Without much time to read up on the play beforehand, I went into the performance fairly blind: but the production is so well-judged and acted that it wasn't necessary to have much knowledge of Love's Labour's Lost. This is all the more impressive because the play is packed with complex language and went unperformed from Shakespeare's death until 1837.
The gardens of Wadham College are an ideal location for the production, because the play is set in the park of the King of Navarre. The suspension of time in the play really came across, partly due to some wise edits to the text but not least because the production is so enjoyable – the first four acts fly by, and when fifth act drags just slightly the climax is superb. I really felt that Love's Labour's Lost which deserves its enhanced reputation in recent years: this is a play which can be made as accessible and as outright funny as any of Shakespeare's other comedies.
This production of Love's Labour's Lost opened in June and continues until August 18th. There are so many choices of Shakespeare productions in Oxford this year, but this one is definitely a worthwhile choice.
I'm here to write about films and chew bubblegum. And I'm all out of bubblegum.
Henry V (UK, 1989) ★★★★½
The Fast and the Furious (USA, 2001) ★★★★
Goodfellas (USA, 1990) ★★★★★
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