Jerry Boone of the Hillsboro Argus waxes lyrical on our La Dolce Vita inspired production of Love’s Labour’s Lost!
‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ opens with Vespas, moon walk, and solid performers from Bag&Baggage
on July 24, 2014 at 4:02 PM, updated July 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM
It’s that last line that stung little Scotty.
And that is how, years later, we have a play by Shakespeare, interpreted by Palmer, that has the performers arriving in Hillsboro’s Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza on motorscooters or moon walking across the stage.
The story, as presented by Bag&Baggage Productions, revolves around three young men who sign a pledge to study hard, sleep little, and avoid women for three years. Later that same day, the lovely (and leggy) Cassie Greer, playing the Princess of France, arrives on a Vespa with her two companions. The men are smitten. The women aren’t. And thus, the fun begins.
On the surface, it appears to be a piece of lightweight writing, but when it’s all over, there is really more to the tale than an Elizabethan-era boys-meet-girls sitcom.
In his director’s notes, Palmer admits that “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is perhaps the most criticized work of Shakespeare, at one time described as “confusing, convoluted, overrun with sexual innuendo and immature humor.” He’s done everything he could to simplify and streamline the plot and infuse it with energy.
The result is a play performed with depth, style, enthusiasm and flair that is far superior to what Shakespeare penned. It is somewhat akin to having Van Goth commissioned to paint a cedar fence.
While you might assume that Greer and Andrew Beck, who plays Ferdinand, King of Navarre, would be the central characters, most of the good lines go to the supporting roles.
Chip Sherman plays the smooth talking, smooth moving Lord Berowne, who reluctantly signs the all-study, no-women pledge and is the first of the trio to fall — or jump — off the wagon at the feet of Lady Rosaline, played by Arianne Jacques, where he grovels for her attention.
Gary Strong is the Spanish knight Armado, with all the flair of the late Dom DeLuise, proving that you don’t need to be a 98-pound sapling to be athletic and light on your feet.
Strong is often paired with Adam Syron, filling the role of the bumbling servant Moth. They create a Mutt and Jeff duo of lines and choreographed athleticism that is simply outstanding. The role of Moth marks the end of Syron’s tenure with the company. A popular performer who seems able to shine in every role, he is headed to England to pursue an advanced degree in theater.
Armado and Moth are both in love with Jaquenetta, a peasant girl played by Rachel Rosenfeld, who is apparently wise in the ways of the world, trapped between two men fighting for her hand, and determined to dictate the outcome of the conflict. When she arrives on stage, her suitors simply fill supporting roles.
With a cast of only 10, Palmer was able to fill each role with a performer who does more than justice to the job.
The plot is somewhat predictable, right up to the end when Shakespeare adds his own twist to what would seem to be an inevitable conclusion.
As presented, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is worth seeing, if not for the story, certainly for the performers. And that’s reason enough.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, July 24 through Aug. 9, outdoors at the Civic Center Plaza, 150 E. Main St., in downtown Hillsboro. Tickets: $18. Palmer recommends bringing a blanket or seat.