There are few pleasanter ways to pass an evening than sitting in a park out under a summer sky, watching Shakespeare's lovers, clowns and bearded Russians romp around on a stage. Yes, Love's Labour's Lost has a scene with a bunch of cavorting Muscovites, just one aspect of this play that makes it one of Shakespeare's silliest, with the exception perhaps of Pericles.
The motives behind mounting Love's Labour's Lost are obvious: There is bright, witty banter all over the place. Wordplay, puns, tongue-in-cheek soliloquies, purposely bad sonnets; Lost has it all. Joseph Wycoff's Biron (a prototype of Much Ado About Nothing's Benedict) is particularly sly and nuanced, infusing the cleverest character in the cast with a beautifully self-aware chagrin. Skyler Schrempp, playing the pageboy Moth, takes a relatively small role and makes it shine with bright opinion. Bryan James Wakefield's Costard the Clown is an apple-eating, scene-stealing, scarecrow marvel, while Don Adriano De Armado, the "fantastical Spaniard," is played with warmth and a good-humored twinkle by Stephen Spencer. These actors were truly the highlight of the evening.
But for all the banter, the colorful cravats and gowns, the mistaken identities and dancing Russians, Lost is a play without an ending. Most of the female characters are a shallowly conceived petty gaggle of "mean girls." There is a whole subplot with a schoolmaster, a constable, and a curator that makes as little sense as a bad joke, a play-within-a-play that seemed to smack of anti-semitism, and - on a completely technical note, a distractingly squeaky stage ...
Love's Labour's Lost was fun production but unsatisfying. It makes for a nice night out, and there is plenty about the play to enjoy. The company thoughtfully supplies mosquito repellent at the concession stand.