Love’s Labour’s Lost – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

In the Christian faith, Lent is a time, of forty days, to prepare for Easter by forsaking a special desired item as a sign of self-denial. Forty days is a long time for abstinence. Imagine, therefore, when King Ferdinand of Navarre and his loyal friends Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville sign a pledge to devote three years to serious study and to abandon the company of women. The ink is barely dry before their vow is severely tested. Into the court of the King come the pretty princess of France and her lovely ladies in waiting and the challenge is clearly afoot.

No one but Will Shakespeare could conjure up such a delightful and humorous premise and he does so with delicious wit in “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” The Elm Shakespeare Company has assembled a handsome production on a palatial set, in the forest of Edgerton Park, on the border of New Haven and Hamden, until Sunday, September 2. The show begins at 8 p.m. but come early to picnic, with your chairs or blankets, and enjoy the festive music at 7:30 provided by Greasy Jones and the Dirty Pots.

You’ll think you’ve fallen into the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald with Elivia Bovenzi’s colorfully couple coordinated costumes, Izmir Ickbal’s imaginative palace set, with a band on stage, creative choreography by Kaia Monroe Rarick and the innovative direction by Rebecca Goodheart.

This admirable production features Martin Lewis as the ambitious King who pledges with his lords played by Aaron Bartz, Kingston Farady and Michael Hinton to forsake the feminine form in favor of contemplative studies, to sleep but three hours a night, to eat one meal every other day and to stick to these strict decrees for a mere 1095 days or three years, whichever comes first.

Their lofty goals fly out the window when the winsome women of France arrive, led by Rachel Clausen, and accompanied by Lori Vega, Sasha Mahmoud and Betzabeth Castro. A capable chaperone, Gracy Brown, accompanies and advises the ladies. A comic romance also ensues between James Andreassi’s love obsessed Don Adriano and Sarah Bowles’ dairy maid Jaquenetta. A special shout out to Brianna Bauch as Moth, who is in service to the overly amorous Don, Benjamin Curns as the poet spouting school teacher and Martin Jason Asprey as the mischievious messenger man. The entire cast provides an exceptional visit into the Bard’s world, especially as it is set in the 1920’s.

Donations are welcome at the performances, collected by the eager Elm Shakespeare Interns who are learning theater arts. A special fundraiser PUT ON THE RITZ will take place on Thursday, August 30 at Edgerton Park, starting at 5 p.m. with cocktails, buffet and auction. Tickets start at $75. Call 203-392-8882 or online at www.ElmShakespeare.org.
Enter merrily into the romantic world created by Cupid where the pursuits of education are quickly abandoned as Love 101 is studied and many tests are failed in this comic war of wits. The elegant ending proves that the Bard knew that “all’s well that ends well.”

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