Labour's Lost: The Musical
Reviewed by Seth Bisen-Hersh
I have seen my share of good and bad productions of Shakespearean work. The good are usually phenomenally good and the bad are usually atrociously painstaking. Loves Labourís Lost, currently playing at the American Globe theatre, is in the former category. The production is nearly flawless, hilarious, and incredibly fun.
Loves Labourís Lost is one of Shakespeareís many comedies. The basic premise is that a group of men decide to lock themselves up for three years to become scholars. They discern that with eating only every other day, sleeping only three hours a night, and banning all women, they can achieve true intellectual prowess. However, a group of girls enter, and they all fall in love. What follows is a battle-of-the-sexes, heart versus brain conflict which predictably ends in a happy ending for all.
The show is presented in two acts instead of five, and is considerably cut, fluently and nicely. There are added songs, thankfully written for the production by Bob McDowell (unlike the recent Kenneth Branagh movie, which used already written, standard songs). The songs are well placed, well written and are mostly diverse. Although they do not provide new levels of understanding or meaning, and none of them are standalone hits, they are fun, well performed, and well choreographed by Laura Danette.
The cast is remarkable. They all appear to be experienced Shakespearean actors, and with the help of the directors, John Basil and Kenneth Noel Mitchell (the latter also the adapter), they do not miss a single innuendo or pun opportunity. The standouts are Basil Rodericks as Moth and Rainard Rachele as the slave Costard, although really the entire cast is wonderful.
The major gripe I had with the production was the use of a canned orchestra. Although obviously cheaper and easier to use when there is limited space, nothing can compare to a live piano, even if it is the only instrument in the pit. The other minor gripe was that intermission lasted nearly a half hour, which is way too long for an intermission to be.
Overall, Love Labourís Lost is a great time. This production is splendid, hilarious, and most of all fun. It manages to keep the best of the Shakespeare play, while adding humor and whimsicality. I would highly recommend it to any Shakespeare fans, any high school classes, and anyone who just wants to sit back and have a good time. (reviewed on March 16, 2003)