Review: Love’s Labour’s Lost

“Who are you calling stock characters?”

“Who are you calling stock characters?”

Photo courtesy of Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday; Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, 2005 Highway 28 in Incline Village, Nevada; $15-$99. (800) 747-4697; Through August 27.
Rated 4.0

This “battle-of-the-sexes” Shakespeare comedy is staged less frequently than the better-known Much Ado About Nothing or Taming of the Shrew—but in the right hands, it can be just as funny. Modern-day audiences sometimes find Love’s Labour’s Lost easier to enjoy, especially the ending, in which the women unequivocally get the better of the men. This Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival version alternates in repertory with The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The story involves the handsome, single King of Navarre and three lords who, good-looking and available, pompously renounce wine, women and song, in favor of three years of philosophical study and fasting. But this is a summer comedy with college boy overtones, and soon these randy young royals start straying from their lofty vows. Especially when the cute and single Princess of France and three young, attractive ladies come a-calling, seeking romance.

There are several stock characters: a verbose, foppish foreigner (a Spaniard, well-played by Lynn Robert Berg); the clownish fool Costard (Jeffrey C. Hawkins, in a strong performance); a dimwitted constable (named Anthony Dull, played with laconic wit by Joe Conley Golden); the sexpot country wench Jaquenetta; and stuffy professor Holofernes. The eager guys have a particularly silly scene disguised as dancing Muscovites with obviously fake Russian accents; they are easily outwitted by the ladies. With 14 Equity actors (mostly from New York and Chicago) in the cast, the show is smooth and glossy, and the score (’60s pop, mostly) pairs well with the frivolity of summer courtship.