“Not […] for the Faint Hearted”: Volcano Theatre’s L.O.V.E. as a Physical Theatre Adaptation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines L.O.V.E, a stage performance devised in response to Shakespeare’s Sonnets by a Welsh experimental theatre company established in 1987, the Swansea-based Volcano. This widely discussed and globally showcased, award-winning production was first made in 1992, revived in 2003 for a tour of the Caucasus, and recreated with a new ensemble of performers in 2012 (in celebration of the company’s 25th anniversary), also leading to a 2013 offshoot entitled Women in L.O.V.E. As a significant British example of physical theatre—a mode of theatre-making that uses the movement of bodies as a key part of the aesthetics—the original production of L.O.V.E. was directed and choreographed by physical theatre and dance practitioner Nigel Charnock (a founding member of acclaimed physical theatre company DV8). The dynamic and passionate rejuvenation of the Sonnets was composed for three performers. At the centre of the love triangle in this narrative dramatization of the Sonnets is a young lover, who makes both the Poet figure and the Dark Lady jealous. L.O.V.E. was a highly physicalized and visualised dramatisation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, one that “harnessed the wonderful words of Shakespeare to a breakneck physicality”, using “physical and emotional extremism” in performance, against an “anarchic” and “irreverent” backdrop (Davies 2012). The present chapter explores the production with the aid of Peter Brook’s insights into working with classics, Antonin Artaud’s vision of radical theatre, and Eugenio Barba’s conceptualisation of dramaturgy for physical theatre. The perspective is broadly intertextual and contextual, also highlighting points of connection with Shared Experience’s 1991 performance inspired by the Sonnets, Sweet Sessions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShakespeare's Global Sonnets
Subtitle of host publicationTranslation, Appropriation, Performance
EditorsJane Kingsley-Smith, W. Reginald Rampone Jr.
Place of PublicationCham,. Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-09472-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-09471-2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023

Publication series

NameGlobal Shakespeares


  • Shakespeare
  • Shakespeare's Sonnets
  • L.O.V.E. by Volcano
  • adaptation
  • Volcano Theatre
  • Shakespeare and physical theatre
  • adaptation for the stage


Dive into the research topics of '“Not […] for the Faint Hearted”: Volcano Theatre’s L.O.V.E. as a Physical Theatre Adaptation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this