In this lively comedy, the King of Navarre and his three companions, Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville, commit to a life of study for three years. They swear off food, sleep — and women. Their oaths are tested when the Princess of France arrives with her three ladies-in-waiting, Rosaline, Katharine, and Maria. The lords fall in love with the ladies, and the King with the Princess.
Love is also in the air for country wench Jacquenetta, who attracts the attention of the clownish peasant Costard and Sir Adrian. Costard is given two letters to deliver: one from Adrian to Jacquenetta and one from Berowne to Rosaline, and the letters each end up with the wrong recipient.
The King and his lords eavesdrop on each other confessing their love for the Princess and her ladies, and when Berowne’s letter to Rosaline is revealed, the men decide to pursue the women. They plan to disguise themselves as Russians, but learning of the plan, the Princess and her ladies put on their own disguises to confuse their suitors. After the men leave and reappear as themselves, the women reveal their prank.
With all the secrecy, pranks, and switcheroos, Love’s Labor’s Lost really puts the antic in romantic.
HVSF’s production of Love’s Labor’s Lost is a musical adaptation of the play, with an original pop/rock score by director Amanda Dehnert and Andre Pleuss, an award-winning sound designer and composer. The songs help set the stage and highlight the strong emotional currents running underneath the witty wordplay and bubbly comedy.
We’re always awe-struck by the talent of the HVSF company members, but seeing them find new depths of emotion by performing a musical incorporated into this wordy, rich play, we’re astounded anew at the way they light up the stage and draw the audience in.
A Play Within a Play
The play within a play — when characters in a play don costumes and put on a play themselves — is something of a hallmark in Shakespeare. They appear in works including Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Taming of the Shrew.
In Love’s Labor’s Lost, the King, the Princess, and their lords and ladies watch The Nine Worthies. We’re treated to Costard, Adrian, schoolteacher Holofernes, and others taking on the roles of Hector of Troy, Pompey the Great, Alexander the Great, Hercules, and Judas Maccabbaeus.
The play within a play turns the characters we have been watching into an audience themselves. In this case, the King, Princess, and their lords and ladies. It gives us a chance to enjoy a theatrical experience with them, and as they find the Pageant of the Nine Worthies uproarious, you’re sure to enjoy a good laugh in your seat as well.
A Happy Ending?
You’ve probably heard it said that all tragedies end in death, while all comedies end in marriage. But that’s not quite the case with Love’s Labor’s Lost, which ends in something of a cliffhanger.
During the performance of the Nine Worthies, a messenger comes to tell the Princess that her father has died. Upon hearing the news, the women put a temporary end to the men’s pursuit. They ask them to wait a year and a day, and if they prove faithful (and have grown up a little) the couples will reunite.
Despite it being a comedy, Love’s Labor’s Lost ends on a note of uncertainty. So… who wants to write a sequel?