Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[RSC] Love's Labour's Lost [2015-03-23]

Last night, Cate and I went to one of the broadcasts of the RSC's Love's Labour's Lost. It was one of the few Shakespeare plays that I had never seen or read (literally, I think at this point we're down to Henry 6, parts 1-3).

In the opening, Suzy Klein et al. talked about how the men vow to swear off women for 3 years and of course this is ridiculous because it's so impossible &c. and I kinda side-eyed because hello asexuality and homo-/bi-sexuality and Calls to celibacy and seriously you can go a few years without being a romantic/sexual relationship, I promise.

They also talked about how the play is kind of a rejection of academia, and I was interested to see how that played out. As it turns out, I felt like the play was such a romp that I didn't really experience it as a statement about academia one way or the other. I mean yes, there's Berowne's speech about how love is the driver of knowledge or whatever (and the first Moth and Don Aramado has a bunch of talk about how plenty of strong men have fallen in love -- though okay, Samson is not a grate example to use if you're trying to argue that falling in love will not lead to ruin), and certainly the vow is kinda ridic (which Berowne says in the very beginning -- about the excessive punishment, and its short-sighted-ness in e.g. not thinking about the incoming French princess delegation) and Holofernes (and Sir Nathaniel) are clearly demonstrating how ridic it can be to be so drowning in pretention and failing to actually communicate with people at all. But I don't feel like the play actually touches on issues of actual scholarly study at all.

Cate said the other production(s) she's seen of Love's Labour's Lost also have Doumaine played by someone who's Black, so she's not sure if there's something in the text that suggests this or what. I have occasionally checked the full text for reference in writing this post, but I haven't actually done real research into the text.

Best line of the play:
FERDINAND: Fair princess, welcome to the court of Navarre.
PRINCESS: 'Fair' I give you back again; and 'welcome' I have not yet: the roof of this court is too high to be yours; and welcome to the wide fields too base to be mine.
I was occasionally confused by Moth's arguments, in that first scene with Don Armado, but I felt like mostly he was the voice of ... okay, saying "reason" is loaded here, but not being excessively in any one direction. And he was kind of adorbs with his lead/bullet thing.

If you're sending Moth after Costard, why not just send Moth? I understand that it doesn't matter that he can't read since you're only giving him one letter, but we had a whole plotline about how you got Costard in trouble for messing around with Jaquenetta, whom it turns out you're really into, so aren't you worried about him messing around with her? Or was the reveal that Don Armado had the hots for Jaquenetta supposed to also mean that Costard hadn't been messing around with her after all, he was just a fall guy or something? I'm confused.

Doumaine has a teddy bear! (In the scene on the roof. Which, is it clearly a roof in the text? Who even cares. It's a great scene. And wow the RSC has money, with their retractable floors etc.) So adorable!

When we get to the point when Costard reveals that Jaquenetta is pregnant, I was like, "Well that escalated quickly," and when Mercade shows up it's clear even before he speaks that be brings bad news and I knew it would be that the King of France had died. Because it had so clearly been a comedy, I was surprised that it didn't actually end with everyone getting married (that's like the rule for comedies!) -- and realized oh, right, hence the title of the play: that all the men's labors do not actually succeed. (I'm also really intrigued by Rosaline's bit about how they all took the men's courting as jest, and I'm interested in what's been written about comparing that to how courting works in other Shakespeare plays -- since in here and elsewhere alike, courtship is usually heavily word-based and happening over a brief period of time, but of course in the comedies it's usually successful.)

The RSC is doing Much Ado as Love's Labour's Won -- same cast (Rosaline and Berowne are Beatrice and Benedick, obviously) and with Love's Labour's Lost set in that last Edwardian summer in 1914 and Much Ado (which takes place after a war, after all) set after the War in 1918. So as events were darkening at the end of Love's Labour's Lost, I was thinking about how it mirrored the impending WWI -- and then at the very end (I think just right before Don Armado's closing couplet) the 4 men return, in military uniform, and there's much silence and low lighting and it was really powerful. (I imagine It could easily have felt heavy-handed, or pastede on, especially after all the pre-show talk about bracketing the two plays around WWI, but it really worked. And gives a really tragic feel to the ending, because you realize that they're unlikely to get to reconvene in a year and a day because the men will be at war and may not even return alive at all.)

We're going to see Much Ado in a few weeks, and it'll be interesting to see how much the feel of the end of Love's Labour's Lost stays for the opening of Much Ado (in our memory and/or in the production of the play itself).
Tags: plays: attended, plays: shakespeare, shakespeare: love's labour's lost

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