The kids are in school in Love’s Labour’s Lost

Buddy Holly tunes will provide a nostalgic musical soundtrack for Bard on Bower’s 1950s version of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Buddy Holly tunes will provide a nostalgic musical soundtrack for Bard on Bower’s 1950s version of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

The play is believed to be William Shakespeare’s earliest comedy, written in about 1595. Compared to his later comedies “it’s a little outside the box,” said Emily Pole, who’s directing the Prime Stock Theatre production that starts Thursday, July 21, on the outdoor stage at Bower Ponds.

Love’s Labour’s Lost, which is running in repertory with Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar, contains the longest scene, the longest single word (honorificabilitudinitatibus), and the longest speech of all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Pole said it’s also the Bard’s most rhyming play. Ands it finishes in a more open-ended way than his later comedies do. There’s no mass wedding scene as a finale, so Pole was able to choreograph a sock-hop sequence to end things in celebratory style.

Red Deer band Underside Pattern will provide a breezy soundtrack for some singing and dancing in this production. The trio will perform That’ll be the Day, Raining In My Heart, Everyday and other Holly songs to help set a ’50s mood for the Bard on Bower comedy.

Pole, a recent graduate of Red Deer College’s theatre program, has relocated the setting to an ivy league university during the letterman sweater and circle-skirt era of the mid-20th Century.

Four male students — Ferdinand, Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville — are determined to buckle down and devote themselves entirely to study. This means giving up the company of women for three years.

Of course their bold pledge tempts fate, and a group of beautiful females soon turns up at their frat house door.

Rosalind, Maria and Katharine are accompanying the Princess of France (who is, in this case, the daughter of an industrialist with business to settle with Ferdinand, son of one of her father’s competitors.) The women aren’t put off by Ferdinand’s decree that no females should set foot in the frat house — they set up camp immediately outside.

Love’s Labour’s Lost follows the typical Shakespearean formula of having all four guys fall in love with all four girls — and their romances don’t run smoothly. As one characters states: “Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love.”

Letters are sent to the wrong person, leading to misunderstandings. Characters get disguised and identities get mixed up. “It’s kind of like a teen comedy story line,” said Pole, with a chuckle. “Everything goes crazy…”

Unlike most modern comedies, however, there are a lot of puns: “I was surprised by how many puns there are,” added Pole, who had honed her Shakespearean chops by co-directing The Tempest at RDC last season.

This cast of 14 actors from Central Alberta, Edmonton and Calgary, are learning to speak the jokey double-talk so the puns are obvious to a 21st-Century audience. “I hope the audience gets it,” said Pole.

Definitely, everyone will get the physical humour and the flirtatious exchanges between the bookish men and coquettish women.

“It’s a light-hearted show that will be great, even for people who don’t always dive into Shakespeare,” she added.

Admission is by donation ($20 suggested) to Love’s Labour’s Lost on the outdoor stage. It runs at 7 p.m. on July 21-23, 27, 29 and 30, and at 2 p.m. on July 24 and 31. (Bring bug spray, a lawn chair and blanket).

Admission to Julius Caesar, also on the outdoor stage, is by donation ($20 suggested). It runs at 7 p.m. July 16 and 20, 24, 28, and at 2 p.m. on July 23 and 30.

A ticketed Much Ado About Shakespeare runs indoors in the Bower Ponds Pavilion. Tickets to the 7 p.m. production of scenes and monologues from various Shakespearean productions will run about 75 min. will cost $20 at the door. Seating is limited. It runs at 7 p.m. July 17-19, 25, 26 and 31.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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