For Erin Woods, bringing one of William Shakespeare's lesser-known romantic comedies to the Oklahoma City stage has been a labor of love.
Through March 2, Reduxion Theatre Company is performing an updated version of The Bard's “Love's Labour's Lost” at its Broadway Theater, 1613 N Broadway Ave.
“It's something that I fell in love with as a child because I just thought it was adorable. You swear off women, and then four perfect women show up at your doorstep. And that's just how it goes,” said Woods, Reduxion's managing director, with a laugh.
“It's actually the first full-length Shakespeare play I ever saw as a child ... as a live performance. And I loved it. I just thought it was the greatest thing in the whole world, but then I just also fell in love with Shakespeare in general.”
In the story, young King Ferdinand of Navarre (Sam Bearer) convinces three of his noble lords — Dumaine (Jeff Burleson), Longaville (Ian Clinton) and Berowne (Mitchell Reid) — to join him in signing an oath to pursue scholarship and eschew women for three years. The ink is no sooner dry than the strong-willed Princess of France (Claire Powers) and her three noble ladies — Katherine (Catherine Pitt), Maria (Susan Riley) and Rosaline (Holly McNatt) — arrive for a diplomatic visit and the men find themselves falling comically in love.
The production opened the week before Valentine's Day, and throughout the run, Reduxion is offering a romantic couple's package that includes Champagne and cupcakes for two.
“If we put it in the Valentine's Day slot, (we knew) people would be more apt to just check it out if they're not familiar with it,” said Woods, who is directing the production.
“It is very fun for us to tackle a show that's not often seen.”
Reduxion is known for putting fresh twists on classic plays, and Woods set “Love's Labour's Lost” in 1953 Spain. The location was a natural fit because the Kingdom of Navarre is now part of northern Spain. Likewise, she selected a year with plenty of royal meaning: 1953 was the year of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, John F. Kennedy's marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier and Audrey Hepburn's breakout playing a princess in “Roman Holiday.”
“You think of it as this really old-fashioned time, but it's actually really progressive in terms of like arts and design. There's a lot of really great things happening in that sort of early midcentury mark,” Woods said.