Love's Labour's Lost

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    August 1, 2013

    This show is related to the play of the same name in the way that Shingles is related to Measles. You don’t get the latter without the former.

    We start off with a nicely turned out speech by the King (Daniel Breaker) who announces that he and his three lords Berowne (Colin Donnell), Longaville (Bryce Pinkham) and Dumain (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) will be spending three years in prayer, contemplation and solitude. The last part means NO WOMEN. Within a few seconds, Biron launches into song (accompanied by a hot clutch of musicians) and we are off to the races. Shakespeare’s text is pretty much tossed overboard and the team of Friedman and Timbers takes over. Berowne and the lords sing Young Men (Are supposed to have sex, drink wine, and eat meat and oysters – an in general carry on. And in addition they

    AREN'T SUPPOSED TO READ PLATO OR DERRIDA OR YEATS OR ADORNO
    OR SHAKESPEARE OR KANT OR GOETHE OR HAWTHORNE.
    BOOKS THAT SIT ON OUR SHELVES FORLORN.
    WHY READ THEM NOW IF WE DIDN’T BEFORE?

    So, if I have this correct, they aren’t supposed to read books written by unborn writers. Okie dokie then….

    In short order the Princess (Patti Murin) and her sparing band of attending beauties: Rosaline (Maria Thayer) Maria (Kimiko Glenn) and Katherine (Lynn Weston) arrive on the scene and have their own girlie version of song, Hey Boys, which laments the inadequacies of the opposite sex.

    HEY BOYS
    AND WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO?
    WHEN BOYS ARE ALWAYS MAKING SO MUCH NOISE ’CAUSE IT’S ALL ABOUT BOYS.
    I SHOULDN’T HAVE EXPECTED MORE.
    HEY BOYS
    GO START ANOTHER WAR.

    Sounds like teenagers.

    Before the women can get into a conversation they hi-tale it off stage to reveal – and I do mean reveal – Armado (Caesar Samova) in conversation about his unrequited love for Jaquenetta (Rebecca Naomi Jones) with his page Moth (Justin Levine doing double duty as a band member and actor). Moth sings of his love for cats in what may be the worst song of the evening – not for Levine’s lack of trying. Armando sings and jiggles his nether regions about his love for Jaquenetta.

    Eventually the boys and girls actually meet, and of course they all fall in love while protesting mightily. Poems are written on the sly and morph into full-blown production numbers, complete with sequins and tap-sneakers. Love wished for becomes love won – until the final moments of the story when it seems Mr. Timbers remembers the Bard and tosses in more Shakespeare than has been evident the entire preceding 80 or so minutes. Love is lost for everyone – or at least put on hold – until the Princess has straightened out her kingdom and the all the men have proven themselves worthy. Everyone must wait a year to have love’s labours produce the desired effect.

    You could not ask for a better cast. Everyone here is delightful to look at and lovely to know. Although the chemistry between Berowne and Rosalind is lacking in the extreme, everyone is charming and entertaining. It’s just that what passes for a book is flimsy, and the songs themselves never lay a hand on the observer. They are all pop and bluster without a beating heart. The exception would be Love Is A Gun, beautifully presented by Ms. Jones, but feels out of context.

    This is a beautifully executed bee-bop evening that doesn’t stick with you past the theatre’s exit sign. Stepping out into Central Park wipes the previous 100 minutes from your mind without the slightest effort.

    "Becomes airborne only in fits and starts. As a silly diversion for the silly season, it passes muster, but only just."
    Ben Brantley for New York Times

    "Timbers’ imaginative production is fast, fun and fluid."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News

    "For the most part, it’s a wacky good time."
    Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

    "The enormous pleasure of the production comes, ultimately, from its unbridled sense of fun, underpinned by real wit and a sure sense of stagecraft."
    Jeremy Gerard for Bloomberg

    "A terrifically smart, often hilarious, musically dazzling updating of the early comedy "Love's Labour's Lost."
    Robert Feldberg for The Record

    "A loose-limbed and high-spirited entertainment, 'Love’s Labour’s Lost' is unlikely to prove as enduring a Shakespearean musical as 'Kiss Me Kate' or even 'The Boys From Syracuse,' but it offers theatergoers a nice summertime frolic in Central Park."
    Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

    "This delightfully antic show is a perfect midsummer night’s entertainment."
    Frank Scheck for The Hollywood Reporter

    "None of the girls, not even Rosaline (Maria Thayer, wasted), are defined as characters or imprinted with a musical identity. ... This is a real fun party — too bad nobody invited the girls."
    Marilyn Stasio for Variety

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

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