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

Businessman and volunteer named 2019 Citizen of the Year

John Donald’s parents and sister were each honoured previously

School leader named Red Deer Young Citizen of the Year

Leading by example at Hunting Hills High School

Suspects shot at pursuing police during crime spree

No police officers were injured in May 17 shooting

Mental health survey looks at children and youth in Red Deer

Parent and guardians experiences accessing services for children

Respect Day in Red Deer

Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Red Deer

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Perhaps part of the problem is our phones are too mobile

It’s gotten so bad, they’re selling fake phones in Mexico. That’s right,… Continue reading

College Beat: Convocation celebrates success and future possibilities

On June 7, at our Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, we… Continue reading

Veer: Public safety is council’s top priority

The number one question that City Council continues to hear from our… Continue reading

Padres knock off Blue Jays 6-3

Padres 6, Blue Jays 3 TORONTO — Hunter Renfroe hit a tiebreaking… Continue reading

Scholarship named in honour of young Lacombe crash victim

Scholarship given to committed Grade 12 teen mentors in the community

Solution to save the middle class

Some friends and I were having a discussion about the ever-growing gap… Continue reading

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Most Read