Love’s Labour’s Lost
has never been very popular. One of Shakespeare’s more convoluted comedies, it went almost 250 years after its initial performance without a single production. But perhaps due to its surprisingly feminist themes, or maybe just its sheer number of trysts and merry mix-ups, the story of four lords who can’t escape love has found a new audience in the 21st century. This adaptation by Hillsboro’s Bag & Baggage Productions doesn’t hide that it’s geared toward a contemporary crowd—which doesn’t just mean director Scott Palmer has emphasized the dick jokes. He’s also drawn heavily from The Students
, an 18th-century anonymous adaptation of Love’s Labour’s
that’s about half as long as the original. Characters are missing and storylines have been tweaked, but most of Shakespeare’s language remains. So does the premise: The King of Navarre (Andrew Beck) has decided to ban women from his court for several years of fasting and studying with his lords. But when the princess of France comes calling with her ladies, the gentlemen have trouble sticking to their plan. Oh, and under Palmer’s direction, they’re all living Fellini’s La Dolce Vita
, dressed in slim-fitting Italian suits and zipping around on Vespas. With Michael Jackson-style spins and an exhausting onslaught of hip thrusts, Chip Sherman’s Lord Berowne is the magnetic ladies’ man. Luke Armstrong, meanwhile, plays a hilariously inept Longaville, a follower who can’t quite keep up. There’s also a sitcom’s worth of lowbrow humor—“Hava Nagila,” “La Cucaracha” and the Three Amigos’ salute all show up. Though some scholars might scoff at the numerous cuts and sight gags, you have to applaud Palmer for making one of Shakespeare’s knottier plays feel genuinely relevant and accessible.
Tom Hughes Civic Center PlazaAddress:
150 E Main St., HillsboroWebsite: http://bagnbaggage.org/