We saw Shakespeare & Company’s Love’s Labour’s Lost last night, first of three! Mucho dinero, much pleasure. Anyhow, early play, contemp with Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer’s Night Dream, probably performed first in front of the Queen herself, with a lot of typical Elizabethan things that aren’t as hilarious nowadays, such as making fun of a Spanish character for his elaborate English and having the main men disguise themselves as “Muskovites” and speak with stupid Russian accents. And there is a pageant/play-within-a-play-- how many times does Shakespeare do that? And how must audiences have loved those things. All of this, of course, gives the Company lots of room for hijinks, but there’s not much they can do with latinate word play and elaborate figures of speech, extended metaphors, etc. And I still don’t get why they did it just post WWII, except for the neat women’s frocks and some good forties songs.
But-- in spite of all that, they once again did a terrific delightful play. I continue to wonder how they do it-- and our audience last night included two bus loads of Upward Bound students from Boston who seemed occasionally bored but also often caught up in the fun, giggling over a character being called a “dick,” which may or may not have had quite the same connotation four hundred plus years ago as today. And we all loved the runs through the audience and the appeals to audience members, and all the hamming it up. But still Shakespeare & Company spoke the speeches, or at least most of them.You can miss a lot of details in Shakespeare and still get the story. And the story in Shakespeare can be pretty bad, and you still root for the good guys-- in this case, praise good Queen Bess!-- the women who give the men their comeuppance and promise to marry them in a year if they are good.