Saturday, 7 February 2015

Shakespeare & Charlecote: A Match Made in Heaven

"There was a star danced, and under that was I born." - Love's Labours Won

This post is about four months late. I’ve been meaning to write it day after day, week after week, sorting through the photos, thinking of what I could write. Then I completely forgot, and put it on to-do list that only ever seems to lengthen. That was until I saw on my calendar, under 11th February, ‘LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST CINEMA’, scrawled in black marker pen, and I thought to myself, today’s the day I write about Charlecote Park, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and my love of Shakespeare.
Images copyright of the RSC
Images Copyright of the RSC

You know all about The Vintage Twins’ love for the National Trust, and when I found out last year they had teamed up with the Royal Shakespeare Company for me it was a match made in heaven.  My love affair with Shakespeare started years ago, when I was presented with Charles and Mary Lamb’s ‘Tales From Shakespeare’. I was hooked. One English Literature degree, a dissertation on Shakespeare's history plays, and an RSC Key Card later, I'm here to tell you about two wonderful plays.

Back in October (where did those four months go?) I went down to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won (Much Ado About Nothing). Director Christopher Luscombe is nothing short of a genius, setting these two romantic comedies either side of the First World War.

And the RSC is now bringing these wonderful plays to you, or at least, to a cinema near you on the 11th February and 4th March!

But here’s the twist, local National Trust house Charlecote Park makes a wonderful cameo.  The inspired set replicates rooms from the house. Tiny details, such as the carved fireplace, are noted, making the audience feel as though they have been transported to 1914. The WWI connotations are so important and significant, from the solemn ending of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a scene which made me cry. The celebratory, carefree mood of Love’s Labour’s Won is also scattered with hints to the horrors of the war.

The two, quite frankly, hilarious plays are absolutely wonderful. From the incredible sets, to the sumptuous costumes, the music, and most importantly the talented cast, it’s a gorgeous experience. Check out the amazing leads Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett, who are so very likeable and funny.

Obviously a trip to Charlecote Park was sandwiched between the two plays. There are links to Shakespeare’s own past, rumour has it the playwright was caught poaching there. With deer roaming round the magnificent park, you can well believe it. Not to mention the Folio which you can see in the library. The house still feels alive, with cooking demonstrations in the kitchen, a tour round the stables and a working farm (check out the adorable pigs!). The house is one of my favourite National Trust properties, with it's friendly staff, beautiful grounds, and rich tapestry of history threaded throughout the interior. It is well worth a visit! 

So for an evening filled with wit, humour, love, loss, and a beautiful stately home, go and see Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won. You won’t regret it. 

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