5) Love’s Labour’s Lost, by William Shakespeare
The rest of the play, unfortunately, is pretty impenetrable; half a dozen improbably named caricatures (including a Comic Wench) talking incomprehensibly at each other. It doesn’t work well today, and I have difficulty in believing that it really worked well in the 1590s. Yet Elizabeth I commissioned a special performance of the play at court. Presumably there are a bunch of in-jokes which have been lost in the following four centuries.
Arkangel rise to the occasion this time, and come close to making the whole thing worth listening to. Alex Jennings as Berowne, the King’s lead companion, is particularly good (and rather outshines Greg Wise as the King). The two female leads, Samantha Bond and Emma Fielding as the Princess and her chief companion Rosaline are both good as well. And the whole cast, though struggling against the odds, makes it a more enjoyable listening experience than I had feared when reading the script.
But basically you can skip this one unless it has been heavily cut by someone who knows what they are doing.
Henry VI, Part I | Henry VI, Part II | Henry VI, Part III | Richard III | Comedy of Errors | Titus Andronicus | Taming of the Shrew | Two Gentlemen of Verona | Love’s Labour’s Lost | Romeo and Juliet | Richard II | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | King John | The Merchant of Venice | Henry IV, Part I | Henry IV, Part II | Henry V | Julius Caesar | Much Ado About Nothing | As You Like It | Merry Wives of Windsor | Hamlet | Twelfth Night | Troilus and Cressida | All’s Well That Ends Well | Measure for Measure | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | Timon of Athens | Pericles | Cymbeline | The Winter’s Tale | The Tempest | Henry VIII | The Two Noble Kinsmen | Edward III | Sir Thomas More (fragment)