Note From Jon


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Enfreedoming Shakespeare

Tonight I got to see "Love's Labor's Lost" at this year's Shakespeare Free For All. This was the third year in a row I've seen it and this was easily my favorite (though I loved the past two and the free for all is one of the highlights of my year). The original director Michael Kahn set the play in 1960s India and the setting fit perfectly (with obvious adaptations). Beatle-esque rock stars have agreed to study with an Indian maharajah and forsake women for three years... until a quartet of lovely, witty women show up at their court.

The scene at the end of act one is perhaps my favorite single scene of any play I've seen. Each of the students (and the maharajah) come on stage and "secretly" express their love of a lady to the audience (and the now hidden previous players) through song (including the drummer who rolls an entire drum set out under a sheet where he ultimately hides as the next confessor arrives), and then proceed one by one to call out each other on their hypocrisy before ultimately deciding to renounce their oaths and pursue the women together. The scene finally culminates in the foursome playing a full rock concert song, complete with computer controlled rope lights scrolling around the prescenium. I'm sure you had to be there but it was spectacular.

The best thing about the free for all is that is it outdoors at the Carter Barron amphitheatre. Of course the worst thing about the free for all is that it was nearly rained out, but they build a 30 minute rain delay into their schedule and wound up seating us as the final drops fell. Some other highlights of the show were lines about the "posterior of the day" (afternoon), "remuneration" (which Costard determines to mean 3 farthings), and "enfreedoming your person" as an offer to remove his handcuffs. Michael Milligan as the hippie stoner Costard really stole the show, and I will always remember watching him sit on the bench at the side of the stage, pull out a bag of weed and roll his own joint (like the statue on the National Cathedral I suppose).

What I also want to remember is that Jeffrey mentioned that his goal was to see every one of Shakespeare's works performed and I am going to steal his suggestion and make that a life goal of my own (with this blog hopefully helping to keep track). So far I will only officially count A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pericles, and Love's Labor's Lost as crossed off the list.

Update: I enjoyed it so much I went back to see the show the next Friday. It was still good the second time although the audience was dead and the energy of the show was down. I did catch an additional favorite quote though: "Abstinence engenders maladies"...


R said...

Great idea to see more Shakespeare. One way to do it on the cheap is at the Half-Price ticket website:


techkitty said...

What a great night for food, friends and fun!