Modern reworking of Love's Labour's Lost entertaining Raphael Park audiences
PUBLISHED: 18:18 26 June 2015 | UPDATED: 18:18 26 June 2015
The challenge for any director taking on one of William Shakespeare's great works is re-imagining a text which has been read, absorbed and performed an infinite number of times.
With the playwright’s tales originating from the 16th and 17th centuries, it is perhaps becoming more difficult to set a production aside from all its predecessors.
But an amateur theatrical group founded in 1962 is hoping to impress with its modern-day version of a classic.
Romford Summer Theatre is taking on comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost, bringing its wit to the surroundings of Raphael Park.
The production is led by actress and director Hayley Joanne Bacon, 34, who has been with the company for five years.
She said: “Love’s Labour’s Lost is seen as one of the more complicated Shakespeare comedies because it is a very wordy play; it was written to be performed by academic students.
“A lot of people avoid it. It doesn’t have a traditional ending and is a strong feminist play in terms of this.
“But I like the fact it seems more realistic.”
Romford Summer Theatre, which specialises in Shakespeare’s work, last performed the play in the park in 1985, so it was a natural choice for this year’s production.
The modern retelling introduces us to Ferdinand, who has inherited the kingdom of Navarre following the death of his father.
Consumed by grief, Ferdinand has spent the last six months living in the fast lane with his friends Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville.
But, deciding he needs to grow up, Ferdinand makes a vow to concentrate on his studies for the next three years, with his friends pledging to do this too.
However, they agree to have one last hurrah at the #LOVESLABOURSLOST festival, held in the grounds of his estate, where they meet the Princess of France and her friends from Oxford University, Katharine, Maria and Rosaline.
This puts a spanner in the works and leads to pursuits, disguises, mischief with swapped letters and broken vows.
Hayley, who lives in Elm Park, said: “We have got a great cast of really strong performers. Because we have plays once a year, we don’t have a group of members; we have open auditions and get actors from different drama groups in the area.
“One of our cast has never done acting before. He came last year and thought he would have a go.
“He is now playing Costard [a comic festival goer] and is doing brilliantly.”
Hayley is playing Moth, the niece of ‘80s pop star Don Adriano de Armado.
The character, Don Adriano’s page in the play, was set to feature as a male roadie in this production, but the actor pulled out and Hayley stepped in.
She said: “As a director, you want to focus on directing and supporting the actors, so it is a challenge.
“But because I am the director, I have been with them since the start and we have an established chemistry.”
The 17-strong cast is now looking ahead to the performances, at The Rockery in Raphael Park.
Hayley said: “We are excited and slightly petrified, which is always normal.
“It is scary, but so good working in a team of people who are committed to putting something professional together.
“It is such a supportive and friendly environment.”
The final performances of Love’s Labour’s Lost are being staged in Main Road, Romford, at 8pm tonight and tomorrow.
Tickets are priced between £8 and £10, with discounts for the Friends of Romford Summer Theatre and groups of 10 or more students.