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Love's Labour's Lost

Plot Summary

The King of Navarre and three of his lords form a little 'academe' in which they vow to study for three years, renouncing the company of women. But the Princess of France and three of her ladies arrive on a diplomatic mission, throwing the plan into chaos as soon as the vows are made. The men from Navarre trump each other in a scene in which they are overheard reading aloud their bad love poems. The ladies then comprehensively outwit the men in a scene involving Russian disguise. A comic sub-plot concerns an extravagantly spoken Spaniard, his clever page, a country clown and a pregnant dairymaid, with contributions from a curate and a pedantic schoolmaster, culminating in a pageant of classical and biblical heroes, 'The Nine Worthies'. Halfway through this show, Marcade arrives with news of the death of the princess' father. The mood turns sombre and the ladies give the men the task of performing a year's ascetic penance or community service before they will marry them.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1965 RST: John Barton
Sally Jacobs (design); John Bradley (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Charles Thomas (Berowne), Janet Suzman (Rosaline), Charles Kay (Navarre), Tina Packer (Princess of France), William Squire (Armado), Tony Church (Holofernes), Timothy West (Sir Nathaniel), James Laurenson (Longaville), Michael Pennington (Dumaine), Katharine Barker (Maria), Jessica Claridge (Katharine), Brewster Mason (Boyet), Patsy Byrne (Jaquenetta), David Waller (Dull), Tim Wylton (Costard), Stanley Lebor (Marcadé), Marshall Jones (A Forester)

1973 RST/1975 US Tour/1975 Aldwych: David Jones
Timothy O'Brien (design); John Bradley/Stewart Leviton (lighting); William Southgate (music)


Ian Richardson (Berowne), Estelle Kohler (Rosaline), Bernard Lloyd/David Suchet (Navarre), Susan Fleetwood (Princess of France), Tony Church (Armado), Derek Smith/Norman Rodway (Holofernes), Jeffery Dench (Sir Nathaniel), Robert Ashby (Longaville), Michael Ensign (Dumaine), Catherine Kessler/Lynette Davies (Maria), Janet Chappell (Katharine), Sebastian Shaw/Patrick Godfrey (Boyet), Louise Jameson (Jaquenetta), Denis Holmes (Dull), Timothy Dalton/Mike Gwilym (Costard), Bernard Lloyd/David Suchet (Ferdinand), Gavin Campbell (A Forester)

1978 RST/1979 Aldwych: John Barton
Ralph Koltai (design); Nick Chelton (lighting); James Walker (music)


Michael Pennington (Berowne), Jane Lapotaire (Rosaline), Richard Griffiths (Navarre), Carmen Du Sautoy (Princess of France), Michael Hordern/Tony Church (Armado), Paul Brooke (Holofernes), David Suchet (Sir Nathaniel), Ian Charleson (Longaville), Paul Whitworth (Dumaine), Sheridan Fitzgerald (Maria), Avril Carson (Katharine), Alan Rickman/Oliver Ford Davies (Boyet), Jo James (Moth), Ruby Wax (Jaquenetta), David Lyon (Dull), Allan Hendrick (Costard), Alan Cody (Marcadé), Dennis Clinton (A Forester)

1984 RST/1985 Barbican: Barry Kyle
Bob Crowley (design); Chris Ellis (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Roger Rees (Berowne), Josette Simon (Rosaline), Kenneth Branagh (Navarre), Emily Richard (Princess of France), Edward Petherbridge/Richard Easton (Armado), Frank Middlemass/Christopher Benjamin (Holofernes), John Rogan (Sir Nathaniel), James Simmons (Longaville), Adam Bareham/Jim Hooper (Dumaine), Alison Rose (Maria), Kate Buffery/Sarah Woodward (Katharine), Harold Innocent/John Carlisle (Boyet), Amanda Root (Moth), Frances Barber/Rowena Roberts (Jaquenetta), George Raistrick (Dull), Brian Parr (Costard), Norman Henry (Marcadé), Andrew Jarvis (A Forester), David Phelan/James Newall (Lord), Alphonsia Emmanuel, Dexter Fletcher, Cathy Tyson, Jan Revere, Steven Pinner (Villagers), Catherine James (Singer)

1990 RST/1991 Barbican: Terry Hands
Timothy O'Brien (design); Terry Hands, Clive Morris (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Ralph Fiennes (Berowne), Amanda Root (Rosaline), Simon Russell Beale (Navarre), Carol Royle (Princess of France), John Wood (Armado), David Troughton (Holofernes), Paul Webster (Sir Nathaniel), Bernard Wright (Longaville), Paterson Joseph (Dumaine), Katrina Levon (Maria), Caroline Loncq (Katharine), David Killick (Boyet), Nicholas Besley/Jon-Sel Gourkan (Moth), Alex Kingston (Jaquenetta), Richard Ridings (Dull), Lloyd Hutchinson (Costard), Griffith Jones (Marcadé), John Hodgkinson (A Forester), Marston Bloom, Shura Greenberg, Jamie Hinde (Servants)

1993 RST/1994 Barbican/1995 Barbican and International Tour: Ian Judge
John Gunter (sets), Deirdre Clancy (costumes); Alan Burrett (lighting); Nigel Hess (music)


Jeremy Northam/Richard Garnett (Berowne), Abigail McKern/Sarah Woodward (Rosaline), Owen Teale/Philip Quast (Navarre), Jenny Quayle/Jenny Agutter (Princess of France), Daniel Massey/Richard O'Callaghan (Armado), John Normington/Arthur Cox (Holofernes), Raymond Bowers (Sir Nathaniel), Guy Henry/Bernard Wright (Longaville), Robert Portal/Roger Moss (Dumaine), Alexandra Gilbreath/Emily Joyce (Maria), Virginia Grainger/Sian Radinger (Katharine), Paul Greenwood/Cherry Morris (Boyet), Christopher Luscombe/John McAndrew (Moth), Sara Weymouth (Jaquenetta), Mike Burnside (Dull), Mark Lewis Jones/John Hodgkinson (Costard), Nick Simons/Mike Murray (Marcadé), Tim Hudson/Tudor Price (Master of the Hunt), Robin Pratt (College Porter), Caroline Payne (Maid), Stuart Bunce (Student)

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