Love's Labour's Lost

published: Fri, 6-Feb-2004   |   updated: Wed, 4-Jan-2017
Programme cover

Boyet in Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare for Theatreworks at Smokebrush Theater. Directed by Murray Ross. August 1994.

Ah, Love's Labour's Lost. A fun, fun production this one, for my third play in the Springs.

There are so many memories of this play for me. My first Shakespeare in the States. Acting with Leah Chandler Mills again. Enjoying the part of "honey-tongued" Boyet so much, I bought the domain name. My wife-to-be telling her best friend that I was trying too hard to get into Shakespeare's rhythm and obviously my accent was fake. A great costume in baby blue and a carved walking stick. The performance when Barbara Mota forgot to go on, leaving Michael Borghi and Michael Augenstein on stage, with nothing to do but start inventing dialogue (have you tried inventing Shakespearean dialogue off the cuff?), and suddenly having Augenstein appear backstage with a fierce whisper, where the f**k's Jaquenetta?, and no one in the audience realizing. The live music for scene changes. Tom Paradise and Kathy Atherton getting married on stage after the final performance. Getting angry at Murray, the director, because after the final dress rehearsal he told me he wanted me to cavort around in the last dance, and this after I'd spent the entire rehearsal process making Boyet cool, smooth and sophisticated.


King of NavarreTom Paradise
BerowneGregory Wagrowski
DumaineMichael Morgan
LongavilleEric Bosse
BoyetJulian Bucknall
MarcadeJason Willard
Don ArmadoBob Pinney
MothErica Linz
CostardGareth Saxe
NathanielMichael Augenstein
HolofernesMichael Borghi
Princess of PranceLeah Chandler Mills
RosalineMarijen Gorska
KatherineAlysabeth Clements
MariaSusannah Weaver
AttendantBeth LaVoo
JaquenettaBarbara Mota
The ForesterSteve Pease

Review from the Gazette Telegraph

Troupe hits right note in `Love's Labour's Lost'

Theatreworks director, cast give harmonious spin to brassy comedy

Mark Arnest

Harmony and romance reign in Theatreworks' production of Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," playing this month at the Smokebrush Center for Art and Theater. It's a graceful, satisfying interpretation of one of Shakespeare's flimsiest comedies.

The play begins with the King of Navarre and three of his lords about to take a vow renouncing the pleasures of the world for three years in order to devote themselves to study. The ink is barely dry when the Princess of France appears with three of her ladies-in-waiting. The vow is out the window, and we prepare for everyone to pair off. A barrage of letters follows. For the rest of the play the couples-to-be jockey for emotional position.

The climax of "Love's Labour's Lost" (the announcement that the Princess's father has died) is arguably hamfisted, but it elevates the action to a new level. Introducing life and death into a play that's been nothing but silly fun puts love in a more serious light. The couples decide to delay their nuptials for a year - the "lost" of the title.

In stressing the comedy's lyrical and romantic elements, director Murray Ross both softens a play that can be overbrilliant and brassy and prepares us for the ending.

Harmonious doesn't equal dull. Although many Shakespearians believe that "Love's Labour's Lost" is Shakespeare's earliest surviving play (dating from his early 20s though revised later), it contains some of Shakespeare's most brilliant wordplay. Here, plot and characters often are merely the frame for the clever dialogue - almost everyone in this play is witty - and some nice sentiments about love. But don't let the thought of keeping up with 400-year-old puns put you off. You may only understand two-thirds of "Love's Labour's Lost," but two-thirds of this wordplay puts most other plays to shame.

A man of sudden and fierce infatuations, Ross has been known to miscast imported actors, so I'm happy to say this year's Shakespeare cast is entirely local. Dealing with familiar actors, Ross' grasp is sure, and the fine ensemble has much to do with the production's harmoniousness.

Tom Paradise is suitably regal as the King of Navarre, yet convincingly lapses into a lovesick puppy. Ziggy Wagrowski shines as Berowne, the skeptic among the King's lords. He's never sounded so good. Eric Bosse brings more range to the stuffy, grandeloquent Longeville than the part actually contains and, as Dumaine, Michael Morgan takes the term "tree-hugger" literally.

Leah Chandler Mills gives the Princess of France a slightly slower pacing than the other principals, as befits her royalty. Marijen Gorska is Wagrowski's match as the acid-tongued Rosaline.

Bob Pinney plays Don Armando, the "fantastical Spaniard" who bears the brunt of many of the play's gags, with real charm. Eleven-year-old Erica Linz as Moth, Don Armando's page, steals nearly every scene she's in. It's impressive enough that she speaks the lines; but she also speaks them with dash and understanding.

Michael Borghi turns in one of the play's strongest performances as the pompous Holofernes, an indignant cross between John Barrymore and Snidely Whiplash. Julian Bucknall, as the princess's attendant, Boyet, is a charming, energetic fop. Mel Greer, as constable Dull, is always suitably a step behind the other characters.

Also contributing greatly to the romantic atmosphere are Kim Aeby's set, a ruin full of whimsy and magic; Betty Ross' splendid Second Republic-style costumes; and Schubert's music, arranged by Bob Tudor and beautifully played by Evgueni Goundrizer, Valentina Kokhanovskaya, Suzanna Schulze and Susan Smith. Each is lovely in itself; they also fit together perfectly.

Mark Arnest is the Gazette Telegraph's theater critic.

(c) Gazette Telegraph 1994