Love’s Labour’s Lost Review – Canada’s Stratford Festival Joins Los Angeles’ CTG

Company members of the Stratford Festival film of “Love's Labour's Lost.” - Photo by David Hou
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One of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST was first performed for Queen Elizabeth I in 1597. Known for the longest scene in all of Shakespeare’s plays (588 words) and for the use of the longest word (honorificabilitudinitibus), LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST was rarely staged after the sixteenth century. Scholars suggested that the play lost favor due to its historic and political references, factors which didn’t play well for a younger generation unfamiliar with these past events and people. LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST is also a piece heavily weighted with word play and verbal gambits– another issue which often made clever barbs go unappreciated with a more modern audience. However, interest began to revive in the twentieth and current centuries. Between 1973 and 2000, Shakespeare’s play was adapted as an opera, radio program, television presentation, musical, and musical film.

Stratford Company Cast – Photo by On-The-Run Photography (2015)

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST opens when the King of Navarre and three male companions decide to forswear life’s immediate sensory pleasures to a life of study and contemplation. To do this, they plan to quarantine themselves in a monk-like setting for three years, fasting and devoting themselves to a spare academic life. Above all – they will avoid any and all contact with the fairer sex. The latter rule is almost immediately tested when the beautiful Princess of France arrives at the King’s palace with her three voluptuous ladies in waiting in order to discuss the fate of Aquitaine. Even with the female royal party relegated to the fields outside the castle, temptation soon begins to rear its lusty head.

Stratford Festival Company – Photo by On-The-Run Photography (2015)

Skillfully directed by John Caird, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST features a strong cast including Sanjay Talwar (Ferdinand of Navarre), Mike Shara (Barowne), Ruby Joy (Princess of France), and John Kirkpatrick (Boyet). Composer Josh Schmidt’s music is cunningly woven throughout, adding an authentic element to the Renaissance tale. Kudos to the wardrobe master, John Bynum. All the opulent costumes are handmade and fitted to each of the actors – and are they ever gorgeous, elegant, and simply perfect. The set (Patrick Clark), lighting (Michael Walton), and sound (Peter McBoyle) are luxurious and evocative of Shakespeare’s own day. This is a lavish, splendid production which provides the ideal frame for Shakespeare’s comic painting.

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST premiered at 2 p.m. (PST) on Thursday January 14, 2021 and will remain available on demand through April 14, 2021. Tickets are free to Center Theatre Group subscribers and supporters. For all others, tickets cost $10. For information and reservations, go online.

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