REVIEW: "Love's Labor's Lost" at The Old Globe

The Old Globe's "Love's Labor's Lost"

Photos by Jim Cox

As the August air blows a warm breeze across the San Diego stage, the summer season of theatre is coming to a close. And what better way to wave farewell to summer than with The Old Globe's latest outdoor production of Love's Labor's Lost? Perhaps the most melancholy of Shakespeare's comedies––and for that reason, it may be one of the least popular in Shakespeare's canon––The Old Globe brings classic tomfoolery and trademark wit to the Lowell Davie Festival Theatre for a fabulous show.

Directed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall, Love's Labor's Lost features the classic switches and shake-ups of a Shakespeare comedy––minus the requisite happy ending. The refined King of the now defunct country Navarre, Ferdinand (Jonny Orsini), signs a vow with three of his lords––though the foursome often behaves more like schoolchildren than the ruling elite. In this vow, the men swear to focus on their studies and stay chaste for three years. Every man eventually agrees, though the sharp-tongued Berowne (Kieran Campion) is quick to protest the arrangement.

Of course, in a typical Shakespearean fashion, the moment the men make said vow they are tempted to break it. The Princess of France (Kristen Connolly) and her three attending ladies arrive to court. Though the men all try to resist their attractions at first, before long every one of them is falling head over heels for the beautiful women before them. And it is indeed the elegant women's grace and beauty that catches the eye of these lords; other than Berowne and the spirited Rosaline, the other pairings exchange barely two words before they fall in "love."

Love's Labor's Lost

With flirtations, games, and multiple cases of mistaken identity, The Old Globe's Love's Labor's Lost is filled with gags and physical comedy. While the men spend their days dreaming of women, the girls themselves are grounded in reality and not so easily swayed. Rosaline (Pascale Armand) in particular is a little skeptical and jaded; she parries off of Campion's fiery Berowne reminiscent of the verbal sparring in Much Ado About Nothing or As You Like It

The other two lords, Dumaine (Amara James Aja) and Longaville (Nathan Whitmer) are sheepishly lovestruck throughout the play, while the Princess's other two ladies, Maria (Amy Blackman) and Katherine (Talley Beth Gale), carry a youthful innocence and a coy charm.

The Old Globe

Much of the comedy within Love's Labor's Lost is derived from the secondary performers such as Boyet (Kevin Cahoon), one of the lords attending to the Princess of France. Brimming with gossip and dry wit, Boyet offers a mischievous and cynical look at the burgeoning relationships. 

With perhaps the saddest love triangle, the sweet and lovable Costard (Greg Hildreth)––with eyes that sparkle and a soft smile that melts hearts––takes up with dairy maid Jaquenetta (Makha Mthembu), who just so happens to be the object of braggart Don Adriano de Armado's (Triney Sandoval) overwrought affections.

Then come Holofernes (Stephen Spinella), the farcical schoolteacher, and Sir Nathaniel (Patrick Kerr), the fragile curate. Filled with arrogance and a lack of self-awareness, Spinella's Holofernes talks down to everyone––from the slow constable Dull (Jake Millgard) to his own companion Nathaniel.

Love's Labor's Lost

The performance features an idyllic, detailed set covered in vines and enclosed with ornate iron gates, as designed by John Lee Beatty and illuminated by Jason Lyons's lighting designs. The period costumes, as designed by Michael Krass, include floor-length gowns decorated with ribbon and lace accents and dapper coats for the young gentlemen.

Love's Labor's Lost is currently playing at The Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre through September 18th. Close the summer season with this outdoor Shakespeare event!

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