Lightning, alas, did not strike two years in a row when it came to Pennsylvania Shakespeare’s grand experiment of mounting one of the Bard’s pieces without a director in a short time period (one week) while letting the actors decide all, including costumes, as they would have in Shakespeare’s time. Last season’s Pericles showed the grandeur and excitement possible in this approach. LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST fares better than the initial attempt at shotgun Shakespeare, Henry VIII, but it seemed disjointed and often too jaunty for its own good.
The comedy seemed self-conscious instead of natural, and while some individual performances — Spencer Plachy as the king, Justin Ariola as Dull, Christopher Patrick Mullen as Costard, Peter Danelski as Moth, and Wayne Turney as Boyet — showed distinction and moved the action forward, most of the production seemed haphazard and unfocused. You certainly get the gist of LOVE’S LABOUR’S, but you also see a young playwright working at his mechanics more than you should. The production did seem thematic, as the company’s Julius Caesar did. Ah, well, the experiment remains worthy, Pericles being a testament to its potential, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare had a four-for-five season, with the favorable four being outstanding, and certainly did not embarrass itself or cheat its audience with LOVE’S LABOUR’S. Read more on Neals Paper >>>
[Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, 2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley, PA] July 27-August 7, 2016; pashakespeare.org.