Open-air Theatre


by William Shakespeare

A scene from Loves Labours Lost

Photo: Becki Cockcroft

Thu 25 July - Sat 3 August 2019 at 7.30pm (no performance Sun 28 July)
Performed in the open air in the courtyard of Abington Park Museum, Park Avenue South, Northampton NN1 5LW


King of Navarre Will Brown
Berowne James Lickman
Longaville Alistair Way
Dumaine James Hay
Princess of France Nicola Osborne
Rosaline Julia Langley
Maria Mairead Kearins
Katherine Amelia Litchfield
Boyet Gemma Knight
Costard Lou Chawner
Jaquenetta Di Wyman
Don Adriano de Armado Victor Guse
Moth April Pardoe
Holofernes Jan Stoppani
Sir Nathaniel Mark Farey
Anthony Dull Kevin Pinks
Mercade Beverley Webster
Korean Minion/delivery person Megan Lucas

Director, Set Design Beverley Webster
Stage Manager, Technical Design, Sound & Lighting
Megan Lucas
Stage Manager, Costumes & Props Clare Brittain
Set Construction
Mark Mortimer
Costume Maker Pamela Mann
Liz Allen, Alex Rex, Mark Farey
Poster Design Megan Lucas
Social Media Becki Cockcroft
Programme Design Tamsyn Payne
Masque Website Martin Borley-Cox
Press Liaison Jen Kenny
Box Office Rob Kendall, Sue Howes, Liz Allen
Refreshments Maggie Holland & Masque Theatre members

'Sharp and energetic'

Reviewed by John Myhill
Pictures by Becki Cockcroft

Anyone who heard me laugh the three times I saw it will know how much I enjoyed Beverley Webster’s production, due to a perfect combination of three things.

First, a great script - thanks Will - and also to Bev for bringing this fairly obscure play into the light and giving it a sharp and energetic edit, with witty and fitting updates.

Second, a very strong cast, pulling together as a team but each with individual moments of magic.

And thirdly, excellent direction, making bold, potentially risky but ultimately successful choices and bringing the best out of the first two elements.

James Lickman as Berowne

James Lickman as Berowne

It had an excellent set, with a genuinely surprising secret door and opening painting, and clever use of the ladies’ ‘tent’.

Mention must be made of the costumes - although modern dress, it was clear that thought had gone into the look, with colour co-ordinated lovers, smart suits, and sumptuous gowns, so it was as much a visual feast as a traditional ‘costume’ show.

Picking out individual performances is difficult when there were glorious moments for every character, but special praise goes to Gemma Knight as Boyet whose expressive face and body movement had me close to hysterics, to Lou Chawner who was the perfect Shakespearian clown, and to the brilliant pairing of James Lickman and Julia Langley as Berowne and Rosaline, prototypes for Benedick and Beatrice from the later Much Ado... I could see the sparks flying between them. I’ve also marked Amelia Litchfield as one to watch in future among other strong newcomers.

Huge applause to those stepping in as substitutes for the Wicksteed Park performance, especially Adrian Wyman matching Lou as an equally impressive Costard.

None of the group’s labours were lost in making this a great night out, and like Armado, I “loaved” it.

A scene from Loves Labours Lost
A scene from Loves Labours Lost

Shakespeare meets The Big Bang Theory/Beauty and the Geek

Previewed by Beverley Webster | director

Loves's Labours Lost is one of those Shakespearean comedies that many people have heard but never seen.

It's quite rarely performed; Masque haven't put it on since 1998, which is one of the reasons I chose to look it over when I was asked if I'd be interested in directing the Summer Shakespeare production.

My first instinct was that I enjoyed the play, the witty banter, the comedy interludes and the love-play between the courtly characters.

There were a couple of drawbacks, however, including the smattering of Latin and the rather bizarre and incongruous pageant scene. This led me to think about modernising the piece; if I had a modern setting I could use translations of the Latin phrases (courtesy of the RSC version) and update the pageant characters. Have you any clue who Judas Maccabaeus was? Me neither. I therefore looked at the characteristics described of the pageant's 'worthies' (defined as 'persons notable or important in a particular sphere') and with minimal changes to Shakespeare's text, chose modern day equivalents that could be equally mocked for similar traits. I'll leave their exact identities for you to discover when you come to see the show.

Next I set about editing the play with a modern setting in mind and realised that the concept of studious men being blown away by gorgeous women chimes with such contemporary references as
Beauty and the Geek, or The Big Bang Theory.

What didn't fit at that point were the references to hunting deer, so the majority of those allusions also disappeared. This had the unintended bonus of cutting many of the now impenetrable 'jokes' (e.g. the mishearing of 'haut credo' for 'old grey doe') and it focused the text on the main action of the play.

After much thought and consideration, I have cut the script down to around an hour and forty minutes, which is within the region of the ideal length for a romantic comedy in the film world and should hopefully add to its appeal, particularly for those audiences not familiar with Shakespeare.

Rehearsals have been a lot of fun as we explore the comedy of each scene, and I've been very pleased how the characters are gelling. My King of Navarre and his Lords (Will Brown, new to Masque, James Lickman, Alistair Way and James Hay, also new) have started to bond and the scenes where they interact with the Princess and her ladies (Nicola Osborne, Julia Langley, Mairead Kearins and Amelia Litchfield, another Masque newcomer) are charming and funny in equal measure. They are spurred on by 'love monger' Boyet (Gemma Knight).

In the stock comedy roles we are seeing the emergence of some interesting double acts: Victor Guse and April Pardoe (as Armado the braggart Spaniard and his page Moth), Jan Stoppani plays alongside Owen Warr (as Holofernes, the pedantic schoolmistress and Sir Nathaniel the curate) and Lou Chawner is ably accompanied by Di Wyman (as Costar, the swain and his lady friend Jaquenetta, a wench). Last but not least Kevin Pinks plays the aptly named policeman, Dull, through whom Shakespeare is able to have a dig at himself for his own use of somewhat florid language, on occasion.

Read a full synopsis of the play by downloading the document below (PDF format):

Flyer for Loves Labours Lost
Download synopsis

Masque Theatre's production is directed by Beverley Webster who has previously directed Playhouse Creatures (2017)