A rarely performed William Shakespeare play will be brought to life in Hamilton's Playhouse Theatre this month, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death.

Carving in Ice Theatre company, based at the University of Waikato, has never performed a Shakespeare production before, and director Gaye Poole thought if there were ever a year to put on Love's Labour's Lost in Hamilton, 2016 is the time.

First performed in 1597, the romantic comedy tells the story of King Ferdinand and his three right hand men choosing to "swear off women for three years", only to face the challenge of a French princess and her three best friends coming to visit the Kingdom of Navarre.

The play follows the resulting drama and hilarity of the varied experiences of the four couples.


"I'm not particularly interested in doing one of the well-known plays again, like Midsummer Night's Dream or Hamlet," said Poole.

"I liked the idea that we'd be giving audiences a Shakespeare play that has very rarely been seen in New Zealand."

Indeed, many may not have heard of Love's Labour's Lost, as it fell out of favour after Shakespeare's era - for around 240 years.

Carving in Ice is comprised of actors ranging from ages of 17 to 67, with many hailing from Waikato University's Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, which Poole said works well with the production of Love's Labour's Lost.

"I really like the intergenerational company idea and the fact that young, relatively inexperienced people are getting the chance to work with people who have done lots and lots more shows than they have," said Poole.

"My main aim is to make the play clear for the audience, so I've had to do a lot of work with the actors on making sure they understand what the intention is in a particular scene and what they're really saying."

Playhouse Theatre will take on a new feel during the play, in which the stage will be set up in the thrust configuration, extending it out into the centre floor of the auditorium, and meaning the audience will be viewing the actors from three sides rather than solely straight-on.

The unabashed romcom is funny, but it begins and ends with the idea of death, giving it a melancholy aspect, which Poole cites as one of the reasons she has wanted to put the play on.

Love's Labour's Lost is a unique environment for the Carving in Ice actors to be involved in, as it is a play about wooing, writing poetry, and the best way to show your love.

Performances will take place on November 15, 16, 17, 18 and 21 at 7pm, with a matinee at 2pm on November 20. Full-price tickets: $15, concession $10, students $10. Book at waikato.ac.nz/academy/events/theatre/loves-labours-lost