4 men. 3 years. No women. Only studying and fasting. This is the start of William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost.” What ensues is a wildly outrageous comedy unlike any of Shakespeare’s others. Vivienne Benesh’s direction was quick paced and relentless with a cast of electric actors.
The story follows the King of Navarre and his three friends Longaville, Dumaine, and Berowne as they encounter the Princess of France and her three friends Maria, Katherine, and Rosaline. Meanwhile, Don Armado, who is also staying with the king, falls in love with Jaquenetta, a servant girl. The audience also meets other members of the king’s court including the bumbling and fast-talking Costard and Don Armado’s quick-witted page Mote.
This production is not to be missed.
The ensemble included Joshua David Robinson as King of Navarre, Matt Dallal as Longaville, Jack Schmitt as Dumaine, and Zachary Fine as Berowne. These four men created such charming heartsickness on stage. Fine in particular with the rather robust role of Berowne displayed great energy and depth.
The women they fall in love with were played by Amelia Pedlow as the Princess of France, Yesenia Iglesias as Maria, Chani Wereley as Katherine, and Kelsey Rainwater was Rosaline. These women were far more grounded than the men, although they definitely enjoyed causing mischief. Rainwater especially displayed Rosaline’s more devious side.
Josh Adams played the aptly named Dull, who was just as boring and dense as one could expect, and the dramatic Marcade. Tonya Beckman played both the gossipy Boyet and Jaquenetta. Louis Butelli as Holofernes and Susan Rome as Nathaniel were a delightful pair.
Eric Hissom’s Don Armado brought fiery energy to the stage. Megan Graves as Mote was also delightfully endearing and relatably adorable. Edmund Lewis’s Costard was quick and sharp.
Lee Savage’s set design recreated the Folger Shakespeare Library on the Folger stage. It was beautifully detailed. Tracy Christensen designed the early 1930s era costumes. Lighting design by Colin K. Bills was intuitive and smart.
This production is not to be missed. The whirlwind story and series of ridiculous events that lead up to the final moments of the play are smartly directed and designed. It begins to spiral into more hilarity throughout until the unexpected dramatic end. This silliness though allows for the sadness to feel more real and heavy in a way. We must contrast the dark with the light in order for it to be noticed, and this is done stunningly well in this production.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes with one intermission.
“Love’s Labor’s Lost” runs at the Folger Theatre through June 9. For tickets and more information click here.