Though the King of Navarre and three of his lords swear off women for three years of study and fasting, they soon break their vows of abstinence to pursue the Princess of France and her ladies. Filled with witty wordplays, foolish courtiers, and silly disguises and accents, Shakespeare’s early romantic comedy is given live music and a flavor of 20th-century Americana in Revolution Shakespeare’s free outdoor Fringe production. Directed by Samantha Reading, with an original score composed by Melissa Dunphy and performed by the multi-talented seventeen-person ensemble (Brendan Norton and Michael Gamache turn in especially entertaining performances), this hilarious reinvention successfully delivers all of the Bard’s clever verse and humorous plot points to a country-rock beat.
The set design is simple but effective, with strings of Edison bulbs above and rows of folding chairs before a trellis backdrop that sparkles with twinkle lights when the sun goes down (set/lighting by Andrew Cowles). Actors deliver their lines and songs at microphone stands, imparting the feel of a ‘60s-‘70s concert as much as a play (a pre-show songfest by the cast begins 30 minutes before the hour-and-45-minute production). In keeping with the period style, there are sidesplitting references to the placards and harmonica from Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (props by Danielle Ferguson), Beatnik snaps instead of applause, and even a vintage fringe jacket (costumes by Jamie Grace-Duff). It’s a delightful evening with an across-the-board terrific cast and direction, and the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer and the Fringe! [Hawthorne Park, 12th & Catharine Sts.] September 16-27, 2015; fringearts.com/loves-labours-lost.