Summer Shakespeare is back and this year the outdoor production is the Bard's romantic comedy Love's Labour's Lost.

Trouble starts when King Ferdinand of Navarre (Elijah Tibbits) and three of his lords vow to forsake the company of women for three years while they devote themselves to academic studies.

But while Longaville (Michael Hayles) and Dumain (Bailey Hocking) are ready to take the plunge, Berowne (James Cowie) has his doubts.

The friends are thrown into a quandary when Berowne points out to the king that the Princess of France (Gin Mabey) is due to arrive shortly, along with three of her ladies, Rosaline (Darrel Nitschke), Maria (Tiffany Wilkinson) and Katherine (Hannah Richardson).


The young women make a flourishing entrance, riding on to the set along the picturesque cobbled streets of the Historic Village on vintage bicycles.

Director Liam Hagan has cleverly devised the women's stylish 1950s dresses to be colour-coded with the jackets of the young men – their pledges of chastity quickly forgotten – as they seek to court the attractive new arrivals.

Hagan himself puts in a comical appearance in the play's subplot as the quick-witted clown Costard, who creates further chaos when he is asked to deliver two love-letters and manages to give them to the wrong people.

The grandest entrance of the evening is made by the pompous Spaniard Don Armado (Matt Glover), a caricature Shakespeare introduced in order to lampoon the hated Spanish in the wake of their failed Armada.

Don Armado has his own absurdly amorous intentions, which are directed towards the country girl Jacquenetta (Sarah McIntosh).

Glover proves he has a fine singing voice when he breaks into an entirely un-Shakespearean Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, then leads the cast in a song-and-dance routine the audience loved.

The talented cast have clearly put many hours into rehearsals for Tauranga's annual feast of Summer Shakespeare, presenting an early comedy that is all too rarely staged.

The only drawback on opening night was that not all actors had refined the art of outdoor performance, where it is necessary to clearly address lines to the audience while appearing to be speaking to another character, and some deliveries were at times inaudible.


Hopefully, it is a shortcoming that will be quickly resolved. It was opening night, after all.

That said, Love's Labour's Lost offers a delightful summer's evening entertainment.

The show runs until January 23, and tickets are available online from Eventfinda or at the gate on the evening.