Love’s labors were not lost, but found, in a sprightly romp, which was a delight from start to finish — despite lasting most of three hours — and exemplified Reduxion Theatre’s pared down, user-friendly approach to the classics.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost,” a play which director Erin Woods described in program notes as “secretly William Shakespeare’s best comedy,” was staged Friday at Reduxion Theatre, 1613 N Broadway.
Set in 1953 Spain, the production needed only a minimal set, charming costumes and naively appealing song-and-dance numbers, which seemed integral rather than extraneous to the comic-poetic riches of the Bard’s early play.
Sam Bearer brought the right manly presence, more affable than overbearing, to the King of Navarre, who gets his three lords to sign a misguided, sure-to-backfire oath to pursue scholarship, not women, for three years.
Equally appealing were Ian Clinton as Longaville, Jeffrey Burleson as Dumaine and Mitchell Reid as Berowne, the signers of this impossible-to-fulfill oath, with only the latter opting out of some of its requirements.
Providing the king with more than enough temptation to break his vow was Claire Powers, as an imposing and statuesque visiting French princess, forced to set up camp in a field near his castle.
Upstaging her in some ways, however, were the antics of her three female attendants, under the direction of the duck-headed cane of the elegant, aqua-clad Boyet, played with just the right flourish by Charlie Monnot.
Holly McNatt was saucy and seductive as Rosaline, who eventually turns the hard-to-turn head of Berowne, and disappears, amazingly, under the dark robes of her second part as a comically bookish male curate.
Susan Riley was wonderfully curvaceous and coquettish in both her roles as Maria, another attendant to the princess, and as a model named Jaquenetta, who conquers men’s hearts with the ease of a flamenco dancer.