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Love’s Labour’s Lost

a Comedy
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 5251

SHOWING : March 31, 2018 - April 22, 2018



Can four young men attempt to honor their pledge to avoid the opposite sex, food, drink and sleep, for the sake of becoming more intellectual and contemplative? Not in Shakespeare’s world and certainly not at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse! After four young women arrive on the scene, the result is far from a blissful pondering of noble deeds and nobler thoughts. Join us for muscovites, masks and lessons about love in this lyrical comedy.

Maria Tatyana Arrington
Jaquenetta Kirsten Calvert
Rosaline Kelly Criss
Costard Nicholas Faircloth
The Princess of France Sarah Halicks
Moth Adam Daniel King
Katharine Amanda Lindsey
Sir Nathanial Vinnie Mascola
Boyet Matt Nitchie
Longaville Cory Phelps
Holofernes Mary Ruth Ralston
Dumain J. L. Reed
Dull Drew Reeves
Don Adriano de Armado Anthony Rodriguez
Ferdinand, King of Navarre Seun Soyemi
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An Extended Labor
by playgoer
Monday, April 2, 2018
The action of "Love’s Labour’s Lost" languishes leisurely as the show proceeds, running about three hours in preview (including intermission) in the Shakespeare Tavern’s current production. That’s not to say it’s a tedious experience that must be endured, but the many pleasures present pre-intermission fade gradually after intermission. Once the plot has been set up and we’re invested in the romances between four young men and four young ladies, interruptions by minor characters just postpone the ultimate resolution. That it’s a bittersweet resolution leaves a taste of melancholy incompleteness.

Director Jaclyn Hoffman has pulled out all the stops in adding comic lazzi to the script. The sublime silliness carries the early scenes of the play, adding verve and giggle-inducing slapstick turns at every turn. Anné Carole Butler’s costumes get a workout in the show, ranging from faux Muscovite get-ups to Anthony Rodriguez’s Spanish cavalier outfit, in addition to the expected Elizabethan garb. Mary Ruth Ralston’s lighting is also effective, illuminating hanging miniature lights for the final scene for a sweetly melancholy effect.

Performances are good all around. Chris Hecke excels in audience interaction as Berowne, and Kelly Criss’ Rosaline equals him in tongue-in-cheek charm. Anthony Rodriguez and Adam King bring tons of energy to the roles of a Spanish don and his servant, and Mary Ruth Ralston and Vinnie Mascola elicit smiles in their flirting interaction as a serious-minded schoolmaster and curate. Seun Soyemi and Sarah Newby Halicks lead the male and female romantic contingents, in which Cory Phelps, J.L. Reed, and Mr. Hecke play the persistent wooers and Tatyana Arrington, Jasmine Ellis, and Ms. Criss play the not-easily-swayed wooed. Ms. Halicks isn’t always easy to understand with her underpowered projection, but otherwise the lovers impress with their jump-in-with-both-feet commitment to the comic demands of their roles.

In minor roles, Matt Nitchie brings faux-elegant insouciance to his role, while Drew Reeves plays his role of Dull as deadpan as possible. Additional color is provided by Kirstin Calvert, as a well-loved country wench; Nicholas Faircloth, as a peasant; and Najah Ali, as an attendant.

"Love’s Labour’s Lost" extends its denouement with a procession of worthies from ancient history, in a pageant devised by the schoolmaster. While there’s some enjoyable silliness in the impersonations of these ancient heroes (particularly in a juvenile Hercules strangling a puppet snake), the pageant comes across as extraneous filler making fun of a type of classical education that has faded in modern society. Perhaps some streamlining has occurred following previews. In any case, the Shakespeare Tavern’s production of "Love’s Labour’s Lost" gooses up Shakespeare’s text with a never-ceasing variety of juvenile jokes and interpolations to make the play just about as enjoyable as it can be for a general audience. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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