Nothing is more full of drama, grandiose and misbegotten plans, and over-the-top moments than youth. That time when life is lush and full of possibilities, and every wonderfully absurd idea or feeling is the best idea or feeling in the world. This is what the production of LOVE’S LABOR’S LOST delivers at the Old Globe Lowell Davies Festival Stage through September 18th.
Youth applies to the work itself as it is one of Shakespeare’s earlier works, LOVES LABORS LOST is both young in its characters, and the youthful folly they can into, and also in his work. You can see shades of the characters and the writing that will later come to define him as the genius we think of him today. While the language and the references may be obscure, the contemporary energy, quick witted and charming characters, and a deft directorial touch to keep it all balanced make this show a delightful romp.
Everything about this play is lush and lavishly over the top and in full bloom. The writing is witty and at times ludicrously flowery in delightful ways, the plot is about characters in their first blossom of youth, when anything and everything is possible, and emotions run high and swift. Directed by Tony Winner Kathleen Marshall, this play is a light and frivolously fun confection.
Ferdinand, the King and his three friends, Longeville, Dumaine, and Berowne start off the play with plans to better themselves by studying, fasting, and staying chaste and clear of all ladies for three years. After they all sign the oath, albeit some more begrudgingly than others, they set about to study and make Navarre’s Academy the finest in the land.
But the Princess of France arrives with her ladies, attendants, Rosaline, Maria, and Katherine, to complicate the matters, as Princess’ are wont to do. As lovely as they are, they bring temptation to the gates of Navarre which put the men in a quandary, as they cannot resist falling for them, but they cannot confess it to each other since it is in violation of their oath.
As the King and the Princess of France, Jonny Orsini and Kristen Connolly they are the emotional core of they play as they transition from love to sorrow, upon news of the death of the Princess’ father. The heart of the quick wit and banter comes from Rosaline and Berowne, played by Pascale Armand and Kieran Campion. Their confident verbal volleys are not only compelling but also foreshadow shades of the Benedict and Beatrice banter that we would soon get from MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
Kevin Cahoon, as Boyette, a lord accompanying the Princess steals every scene he is in. As a courtier and friend, everyone should have a sweet, snarky, and incredibly capable ally like him.
No comedy of Shakespeare’s is complete without a group of madcap misfits, and this play is no different. Patrick Kerr as Sir Nathaniel a delightfully befuddled curate and Stephen Spinella as Holofrenes, a pretentious and pedantic schoolteacher, they could easily fall into clowns but they are so delightfully ridiculous, and fully realized they are incredibly engaging and loveable.
The set, designed by John Lee Beatty is a gorgeous and luxurious garden that only adds the gild to this lily, in the very best of ways. Looking like a French Rococo painting come to life, this is a perfect place for romantic whispers, exchanging secret missives, and a swing for when you’re so in love and your heart feels so light, you have to try to touch the sky.
LOVE’S LABOR’S LOST is playing through September 18th at the Old Globe Lowell Davies Festival Stage. For information on tickets and show times go to www.theoldglobe.org