Despite vandalism and Pokémon, Love’s Labour’s Lost goes on

Shakespeare was outplayed by Pokémon at the opening night of Bard on Bower’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Shakespeare was outplayed by Pokémon at the opening night of Bard on Bower’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.

On the outdoor stage at Bower Ponds, the King of Navarre and his companions were pledging to forsake the company of women for three years of scholarly study in William Shakespeare’s comedy.

Meanwhile, real life was proving more bizarre than art.

Off stage at Bower Ponds, hundreds of local Pokémon Go players began showing up on Thursday evening to mill around the paths, seeking to ‘capture’ virtual-reality characters with their smart phones.

The Prime Stock Theatre actors didn’t seem to mind the constant distraction of people walking around with an eye on their electronics. In fact, at intermission, the actors invited a fuzzy, yellow Pikachu mascot to come out as a photo-op thank-you to the Pokémon players who helped the theatre company crack down on vandals. (The players captured video images of the jerks who allegedly trashed part of the Bard on Bower set early on Monday and turned these over to police).

Unfortunately, all of Thursday’s non-theatrical activity clogged up parking and didn’t help the opening night production, which was over-long and far too verbose to fit any modern sense of a frothy, romantic comedy.

There were certainly some positives about the show: Love’s Labour’s Lost was winningly reset in the 1950s, was exceptionally well acted, and contained snippets of toe-tapping Buddy Holly tunes performed at intervals by local band Underside Pattern.

But at two-and-a half-hours including intermission, an hour could easily have been sliced from the play, directed by recent Red Deer College theatre graduate Emily Pole, without anyone missing much.

For the plot line is very simple: Ferdinand, the King of Navarre, and his friends Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville (played here as college letter-men living in a ’50s frat house), take an oath to to devote themselves to three years of study and fasting.

No sooner do they temporarily turn their backs on women than four attractive females show up at their door.

The Princess of France (played here as the daughter of a financier who has business with Ferdinand) and her ladies, Rosaline, Maria and Katharine arrive — along with much put-upon attendant, Boyet.

As soon as the celibate college men get a gander of the comely, circle-skirted lasses, their hormones predictably rage — and the rest of the story plays out as a series of coy misunderstandings, mixed up identities and (just when you think things have to wrap up soon) a silly play-within-a-play.

Love’s Labour’s Lost’s language is flowery and dense, but this is essentially a Three’s Company episode written in 1590. Pole and her actors understand this, so astutely played up the buffoonery.

Among the many noteworthy performances were Dan Vasquez’s frat-boyish Ferdinand, Isiah Williams’ Berowne, Trysten Luck (Dumaine) and Stuart Old (Longaville). Also memorable were Sarah Spicer as the Princess of France, Tara Rorke (Rosaline), Naomi Esau (Maria), Brooke Dalton (Katharine), and Nate Rehman (Boyet).

Pole kept things moving apace — or as much as the wordy scenes would allow. But the mood could have been further lifted by using the Buddy Holly music as a soundtrack instead of as mostly between-scenes filler.

Love’s Labour’s Lost, which contains the longest word (honorificabilitudinitatibus) and the longest scene in all of Shakespeare’s plays, is worth checking out, as one of his earliest efforts. However, since it’s lesser known and contains few famous speeches, it would help to read a brief synopsis of scenes before heading out with your blanket, lawn chair and bug spray.

It runs at 7 p.m. on July 23, 27, 29 and 30, and at 2 p.m. on July 24 and 31. Admission is by donation ($20 suggested). This year, there’s also a beer garden at the site.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com.

Just Posted

Shipping oil by rail questioned

Red Deer-area mayors respond

Country star Gord Bamford and The Reclaws perform free Games concert Friday

Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in heated dome off Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer

Survey looks at social isolation among older men

Partnership between Red Deer College and Golden Circle Resource Centre

Peruvian brothers travel nearly 8,000 km to volunteer at Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Italo and Mirko Del Castillo say Canadian warmth contrasts with twinter cold

Pride Days celebrated for first time at Canada Winter Games on Feb. 21 and 28

Pride Days are another first for Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games.… Continue reading

Gardening: What are you planting in 2019?

What’s new in plants for 2019? Checking catalogues, greenhouses and stores will… Continue reading

Opinion: I spy another energy hypocrite

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The mittens provided to… Continue reading

Canada’s bobsleigh team races World Cup on Calgary home track facing closure

CALGARY — Canada’s skeleton and bobsled teams will race a World Cup… Continue reading

Italy becomes ninth international football league to join forces with CFL

TORONTO — Add Italy to the growing list of international football federations… Continue reading

Toronto Defiant Overwatch academy team to be known as the Montreal Rebellion

MONTREAL — The Toronto Defiant’s Overwatch academy team will be known as… Continue reading

Canadian fashion and design insiders recall Karl Lagerfeld’s charm, ingenuity

TORONTO — Several Canadian fashion and design experts who knew couture icon… Continue reading

Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle… Continue reading

TSB says improved tankers involved in Manitoba derailment that spilled crude

ST. LAZARE, Man. — Federal investigators say CN rail cars that spilled… Continue reading

Most Read