Lumina Studio Theatre, a youth theater company based in Silver Spring, is celebrating its twenty-fifth year with an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” set in the Old American West of our imagination and old TV shows. “Love’s Labor’s Lassoed,” adapted and directed by Sophie Cameron and Meg Lebow, is a buoyant update of one of the Bard’s lesser plays that pokes fun at the original text and stereotypes of the Old West with lines like “Violence, challenging authority, and poetry—everything the West is about!”
…pride in their performance is evident on every young face on the stage…The pacing is excellent.
Lumina Studio Theatre’s mission is to provide unique opportunities for young actors of any level of experience who seek to perform Shakespeare, other plays of the classical repertory, and modern plays that focus on the beauty of language. Offering classes and summer camps with performance opportunities, Lumina has worked with over 600 students since they launched in 1997. In this production, nearly 50 cast members, ages 8-18, appear to be having the time of their lives. The pride in their performance evident on every young face on the stage.
The plot is simple: four bookish young men (Caleb Grimes, Simon Reich, Dev Hoverter, and Devin Droddy) swear off love in the name of scholarship, only to fall madly in love with the first four ladies who come along (Veronica Obler, Sophie Pranio, Lila Shaw, and Imogen Talmadge). This plot line coincides with Shakespeare’s own, but it is overtaken by the updated characterizations. King Ferdinand and his three noblemen become geologists; the Princess of France and her ladies become cowgirl; and the visiting Spaniard, Don Armado (Evian Guilfoyle), and his page, Moth (Betty Shanefelter), become a traveling snake oil salesman and his assistant. In a highlight of the production, the directors have cleverly added a traveling circus that comes to town to perform “Julius Ceasar.” This is a major improvement on the Nine Worthies play in the original.
Jokes are scattered throughout, providing fun, if rueful, moments of contemporary relevance. For example, Armado assures Moth that “American audiences are increasingly close to believing anything you tell them.” The townspeople criticize the geologists as “scientists (whose goal is) not to profit thee who live upon the land, but to fill the pockets of businessmen”—a sentiment that could come straight out of the mouth of “Yellowstone’s” John Dutton. The narrator of the circus troupe skewers groupthink with “and the world’s most easily swayed crowd set off to bury Caesar.”
The simple set design by Aziza Afzal and Jacquelyn Jenson effectively supports the action. Lighting by Hailey LaRoe does a fine job of conveying the mood throughout. The intimate space allows the actors to be unimpeded by microphones—a small triumph in this world of over-amplified theater productions. The pacing is excellent. Among the most enjoyable aspects of the performance is the music within scenes and during scene changes, everybody gets to two-step and sing their heart out.
“Love’s Labor’s Lassoed” runs through December 17, 2022, presented by Lumina Studio Theatre at Silver Spring Black Box, 8641 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910. For more information and to purchase tickets, go online. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. Children under the age of 7 will not be admitted. Mask required for all audience members. Parking available at the public garage at the corner of Fenton & Roeder. Late arrivals may not be seated.