Love’s Labour’s Lost begins slowly, as the foundation of the play is built: King Navarre and his pals reviewing the oaths they have taken, and the Princess of France and her ladies reviewing their objectives in visiting the King. But it begins to take off when love letters are mis-delivered (as so often happens!), setting into motion a chain of events that is less convoluted than Shakespeare normally allows, but still involves disguise and mistaken identity. And, very importantly, playing with language.
Yesterday I saw the American Shakespeare Center production of the play at the Blackfriars Playhouse and, as usual, thoroughly enjoyed the company's talent in making Shakespeare come alive. From the Director’s notes: “[Shakespeare] allows us marvel at his mastery over words at the same time as we are being pummeled by his insight into our souls. We come to a realization, ultimately, that words, for all their seeming potency and beauty, are powerless over love and death.”
The actors, as always, did a great job: René Thornton, Jr. as the King of Navarre and Allison Glenzer as the Princess of France were both terrific. Tyler Moss was wonderful as Holofernes (standing in for John Harrell, who also would have made a great buffoon of a schoolmaster), and John Scheidler as Don Armado was hilarious (if a bit hard to understand at times). The actor playing Moth, Don Armado’s page, was clearly not Doreen Bechtol as indicated in the program, but whoever he is he was excellent in that role. Jan Knightley was an audience favorite, I think, as Berowne. An interesting casting note: Knightley and Elisabeth Rodgers are paired in this show and they also play Antony & Cleopatra this season. Susan Heyward and Gregory Jon Phelps are paired here and they play Romeo and Juliet this season. Coincidence?
This is another fine production from ASC.