Picture of the Month

Malcolm Davies Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust


In celebration of Valentine’s Day, when traditionally, it was the custom to seek new mates, February’s Picture of the Month shows Berowne (David Tennant) reading out his sonnet addressed to his beloved Rosaline, from the beautifully paced production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Greg Doran in 2008. Some believe that the character of Berowne is a self-portrait of the young Shakespeare, and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets the inspiration behind his love for Rosaline. Whether this is true or not, “Tennant, more than any other in the production …shows a capacity to handle Shakespeare’s language with sensitivity…..When Tennant tells us that “love’s feeling is more soft and sensible than the tender horns of the cockled snails”, it is with the breathless urgency of a man who sees the images he is describing.” (Michael Billington, The Guardian, 9th October 2008).

Terry Hands, who directed the play at Stratford in 1990, believes that a modern audience, although unfamiliar with the poetic conventions of Shakespeare’s time, have “a commentary to guide [us] – whether it is Berowne’s ribald observations on his fellows’ efforts, or the collective sigh that greets the best (Berowne’s sonnet to Rosaline), read by Sir Nathaniel and heard by Holofernes, Costard and Jacquetta. Part of Shakespeare’s genius was to combine thought with feeling….In the theatre the audience can take one or the other – or if the actor is good enough – both.” (From Love’s Labour’s Lost, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen).


  • Liski

    We Russians celebrate St. Valentine’s Day too. In shops there are lots of Valentine cards with love poems. Perhaps there are even parts from Shakespeare sonnets – who knows? I remember one (but don’t think that’s Shakepeare’s): “I have no kingdom, I don’t wear a crown, All I have is my love, That belongs to you from this moment”.
    Today it was impossible to buy a grilled chicken or a pizza. Perhaps pairs of sweethearts had bought all them for a holiday supper.

A freely available online exhibition exploring keys aspects of the music in Shakespeare’s plays, as well as music inspired by Shakespeare.