Monday, February 20, 2017

Review of Love's Labor's Lost at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Love's Labor's Lost. It was by William Shakespeare and it was directed by Marti Maraden. It was about a group of scholars, led by King Ferdinand (John Tufts) and inculding Longaville (Madison Niederhauser), Dumaine (Julian Hester), and Berowne (Nate Burger), who have basically signed a contract that says we will not see any ladies or have any fun--or even really eat enough. But then the Princess of France (Jennie Greenberry) and her court comes for a visit. Of course, all these boys, even though they've only been studying for a few weeks, are very lonely and immediately fall in love with the Princess and her ladies: Katherine (Leryn Turlington when I saw it, but usually Taylor Blim), Maria (Jennifer Latimore), and Rosaline (Laura Rook). They all try to find a way to confess their love for each other and, of course, hilarity ensues. It is about attraction, waiting, and honesty. I think this is a really funny show and I really enjoyed it.

I really liked the aesthetic of the show. I think they took inspiration from The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, which is a painting from the 18th century of a woman on a swing in a very fancy dress with a hat and surrounded by a frame of trees. And there is a guy who is getting an "accidental" view up her skirt. The set (by Kevin Depinet) has a swing, the floor looks glossy like a painting, and the background looks like it has the trees and clouds from the painting, which I think is very cool looking. The style of the play seems very romanticized. It is about attraction more than true love. And the painting's other name is The Happy Accidents of the Swing, which I think refers to what one of the men in the painting's view is. He is not really falling in love with her, he just thinks she is attractive. The costumes (by Christina Poddubiuk) also look exactly like the painting. All of the women wore flat hats and pouffy dresses. And the men wore buckle shoes and breeches. I would happily wear any of these costumes. I think they are beautiful.

My favorite scene was where Berowne had written a love letter to Rosaline and he was thinking what she may think of it. And then the King walked in talking about his lady love, even though they had all sworn not to even talk to any women. And then Berowne hides up in a tree as quickly as he possibly can, which is, of course, hilarious to see. And then Longaville enters and the King hides and Longaville talks about his lady love and says some pretty embarrassing stuff. And then Dumaine walked in and Longaville hid and Dumaine starts talking about his love. And then the King pops out and starts talking about how terrible what Dumaine and Longaville have talked about is and how Berowne would be disappointed in them for falling in love. And then Berowne pops out of the tree scaring the crap out of everyone and starts talking about how the King has also fallen in love and written this love letter to the Princess. Then Costard (Alex Goodrich), who is basically a messenger who has great comic timing and who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, runs in with Jaquenetta (Maggie Portman) who has Berowne's letter to Rosaline. Once Berowne sees it and realizes what the contents are, he rips it up and starts to eat it. The rest of the scene is going on behind him and he is at the front of the stage eating his letter. I was dying laughing. Eventually everyone makes him spit out the letter he has been eating and they realize what it is. He's just been chastising everyone else about writing love letters, so this is a pretty embarrassing experience for him.

I noticed a few moments that seemed a lot like other Shakespeare plays. I'm going to sue Shakespeare for plagiarizing Shakespeare! Don Armado (Allen Gilmore) had fallen in love with Jaquenetta and he seemed like Orsino in Twelfth Night because he was always mourning over being in love as if it were a terrible thing. And he wants music from his page Moth (Aaron Lamm) to make him feel better about being in love. Another moment I thought was a lot like A Midsummer Night's Dream. They basically did a play within a play, about the Nine Worthies, like he will later with "the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe" in Midsummer. They have one scared performer each: Sir Nathaniel (Greg Vinkler) and Snug the Joiner. There's the overly confident one: Don Armado and Bottom. And there's the badly cast one: Moth as Hercules and Flute as Thisbe. I also think that Rosaline seems a lot like Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. She's witty, smart, and stands with her friends above anything, like Beatrice does with Hero. I think it is very interesting that Shakespeare would take inspiration from his own plays. Basically he tries out these characters and situations in Love's Labor's Lost, one of his earlier plays, and then he makes them more well-thought-through and more complex in the later plays.

People who would like this show are people who like eating love letters, swing "accidents," and self-plagiarism. I think people should definitely go see this show. I thought it was an absolute blast and I loved it.

Photos: Liz Lauren

No comments: