Four young men (including the King of Navarre) sign a contract swearing off partying, gluttony, and the presence of women in order to focus solely on rigorous academic study for the next three years. Then, four young women (the Princess of France amongst them) show up at court with a message for the King. Add to the mix a Spanish braggart and a country clown (both in love with a liberal country wench), a group of bickering pedants, Russian disguises, and some really bad sonnets and you’ve got… well, I suppose you’ll just have to wait and see.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
by William Shakespeare
Directed by: Andrew Blasenak
Assistant Directors: Jack Sharkey, Nora Zahn
Production Intern: Alex Kingsley
From the director:
When do we grow up?
Is it when we start to pursue our own passions? When we try to do what’s right? When we replace our knowledge from books with our knowledge from experience?
The world of Love’s Labour’s Lost features a King and his buddies who intend to get serious, read books, abstain from food, sleep, and women in order to grow up, grow enlightened, and earn eternal fame. The play, however, reads more like a high school during finals week. It’s spring. Hormones rage. Everyone thinks they’re all grown up, but they are really just trying to get *ahem* romantic. The boys play verbal status games, but the Princess and her ladies run up score on the out-classed gents. Pranks are played. Impromptu amateur performances happen (How now? Russians?!?). The aspirations of growing up and getting serious continually clash against what Berowne calls “the kingly state of youth.” No one can, nor should, take anyone seriously.
Serious matters of state get shoved aside for romantic encounters. Deep oaths of abstinence give way to superfluous pouring outs of affection, gifts, and verse. True love gets redirected by an exchange of shiny objects. Whereas the play starts out seeking eternal fame, knowledge, and glory, the desire for one kiss renders all useless.
Amidst all this chaos, is a banquet of language. In this feast, some characters are overstuffed—some have stolen the scraps. Some are high-falutin’. Others cut through the *ahem* excrement. Others still try to use the stories of classical loves and, woe be to us all, original poetic compositions to try to express these messy feelings of love, play, and life that, in the bloom of youth, strike us as if they had never struck anyone else before and make the world more alive, confusing, wonderful, and terrifying all in an instant. In such a world, how could we think of studies, or eternal fame?
Perhaps, then, we only grow up when we must. Until the characters are responsible to other people, life is just a fun, foolish game. It is a blast, but, alas, it does not last forever.