Happy Friday, everybody and welcome to Boozy Books (nay, Boozy Plays). If you joined me on Monday you’ll know that I’m not a particularly ardent fan of Shakespeare’s comedies. I know… “BLASPHEMY”. Well, I just find that as far as plot is concerned they are often similar as well as similarly contrite – to the point of confusing one for the other on a regular basis. They insist on relying upon the same mistaken identity and switcheroo shenanigans to create action in otherwise pointless story lines and there are far fewer developed character arcs than are present in the tragedies. Perhaps that’s an inequitable generalization, but if you watched the link from Monday you’ll see that I’m not the only one that thinks this way.
Now, I’m not saying that I don’t like any of Shakespeare’s comedies. Far from it! A Midsummer Night‘ Dream is, frankly, one of my all time favorite plays, and the banter that runs rampant between Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing is a perfect take on the challenges of loving someone you “hate”. However, the romantic plotlines of many a Shakespearean comedy remain the same, as does the use of confusion to create momentum. There’s no denying that good ol’ Willy can still turn a pretty phrase in these pieces and as a result it is the language that really sticks out. Love’s Labour’s Lost is no exception.
Though Love’s Labour’s Lost can most certainly be lumped in as one of the various, interchangeable, mediocre comedies I have spoken of, it’s still worth a look. What better way to garner appreciation for the Bard’s work than by studying the good with the bad, the early with the late. That being said, in all fairness to Love’s Labour’s Lost, it is one of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies and there’s a lost sequel somewhere so maybe it shouldn’t be judged too harshly for it’s seemingly unresolved resolution.
So anyway, about the play… We first meet the Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his three attending lords. They have sworn off women and decided to fast for three years in order to better dedicate themselves to study. Guess how long that lasts… About as long as it takes to meet the Princess of Aquitane and her attending ladies. Because the bros of Navarre have sworn off women they must all hide their love and make use of the token fool to carry their letters. Of course, there’s a letter mix-up, the bros realize they’re all in love, and the ladies disguise themselves as one another to throw off the dudes. Because comedy. Sadly, the ending is marred by the death of the Princess’s father and all weddings are postponed a year. Because… Comedy?
For the pairing I’m going to recommend something light, sweet, bubbly, and utterly simple. There’s really no complexity here so we’ll go with a little nip that doesn’t require a refined palette. So Spumante champagne is the way to go! Frothy and sweet it’ll give you a little pep without being overpowering.
That’s it for Boozy Plays this week! Here’s hoping that when the time comes to see this one on stage I’ll have a good time (with or without the Spumante). But hey, if you get the right group of actors together anything can be entertaining. I’m sure the Stratford Festival is well aware that Love’s Labour’s Lost is a little lacking and has done their part to stage it as interestingly and amusingly as possible.