Scene from Love's Labour Lost

Scene from Love's Labour Lost

This picture comes from a scrapbook kept by Michael Redgrave and his wife Rachel Kempson in the 1930s. (Here we have Kempson, third from the left in the flowered skirt, playing the Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost in 1937, at the Old Vic.) The Redgraves and their children, Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, and grandchildren, Jemma Redgrave and Natasha and Joely Richardson, were to become one of the most prominent acting families of the century, and Kempson continued acting into her 80s. Michael and Rachel had been married less than two years when they were invited to play opposite each other in this production. (Michael was playing King Ferdinand who marries the French princess.) It was their first London engagement. Kempson was to have played a whole range of roles through the season, including Ophelia to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, but just before rehearsals started, she discovered to her dismay that she was pregnant. Love's Labours Lost was all she had time to do before the bump that was to become Vanessa became too prominent.