Review of Love’s Labour’s Lost
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Rob Clare
For tickets / schedule :
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California
Tickets: $37, $34 Senior 65+, $12 for 25 and younger or pay your age
RUN: September 2-24, 2017
RATING: 5 of 5 stars
(September 10, 2017)
Shakespeare’s comedies range from wickedly sharp banter between lovers to drunken buffoonery, utilizing clever plot twists and mistaken identities. In this frothy little play, it is language that takes the forefront; Shakespeare is showing off and doing it splendidly. Dancing rhythms range up and down in a capering melody of words. It is no wonder that love blossoms so easily when the atmosphere is charged with sizzling poetry.
In the court of King Ferdinand, four young men decide to eschew the pleasures of female company and lengthy banquets to concentrate on academic pursuits that will sharpen their minds. The agreement is signed just as a princess and her ladies arrive. Secretly, declarations of affection are written, and the firm pact is set topsy-turvy. The women have their fun at the suitors’ expense, until realizing that the men are truly in earnest.
With eight lovers dashing about in various disguises, I was grateful to costume designer Abra Berman for color coding the couples with hat ribbons and sashes. Her elegant Edwardian summer frocks are a pleasing sight against golden stone walls of the Oxford University quad inspired set design by Jackson Currier. The visuals in this play are a confection of light colors and frivolity, matching the meters of frolicking poetry.
Despite being a solid ensemble piece, each character flashes with individuality. Dean Linnard’s King Ferdinand attempts to hold firm to his studies with stoic duty, while hiding the fact he is a hopeless romantic at heart. Linnard’s hilarious attempt at singing a tune for the princess was matched only by his heel kicking performance in a Russian dance while in disguise. Playful rascal Biron (Patrick Russell) would rather be playing cricket than worrying about books, the opposite of his quietly earnest friend, Longaville (Walter Zarnowitz) and energetic Dumain (Terrance Smith) whose antics land him in the pond rather than face King Ferdinand to admit he is in love.
Their affections are not to be wondered at, with wit cracking Rosaline (Kathryn Smith-McGlynn) who triumphs in every encounter, Livia DiMarchi as the poised princess able to hold her own against the flustered king, flirtatious Maria (Eliza Boirin), and mischievous Katharine (Morgan Pavey) who finds her suitor’s ardor amusing.
Amy Lizardo as Costard has a never ceasing loquacious tongue that could cause Sense and Sensibility’s comment “I do not think she drew breath from the moment we left London.” Lizardo’s personable warmth is a welcome addition to the cast. Carl Robinett’s Moth wanders by in the background of scenes, making snarky remarks until having his moment to shine as the young Hercules wrestling with a snake, causing enthusiastic cheering from the audience and characters alike.
Love’s Labour’s Lost may not have the popular appeal of other Shakespearean comedies, but its richness in language and charming love stories are an entertaining delight with this exquisite production. Rob Clare’s direction crafts a spirited gambol of poetry and awakened desire that is the perfect way to end this year’s outdoor theatre season.