BWW Review: LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST - Melbourne Shakespeare Company
Review by Kathleen Reynolds
Melbourne Shakespeare Company (MSC) presents Love's Labour's Lost, a theatrical romantic comedy set in Malvern's Central Park this March. This classic Shakespearean play is updated with singing, dancing and a modern Australian twist that will have you in stitches.
After making a vow to avoid women for three years to concentrate on their studies, the King and his two trusty friends find they have bitten off more than they can chew when three gorgeous women arrive in 'Melbourne' from 'Perth'. The men depict a comedy of errors as they fall helplessly in love and struggle to obey their sworn oath.
Beautifully set underneath an open-air rotunda in the park, we all sit with picnic rugs around the circular stage. It's incredibly relaxed and inclusive as the cast wander openly through the audience area, sparking up improvised conversations with the crowd. In fact, the whole show is very interactive in that manner - the set design by Karli Laredo is incredibly open so there is little boundaries between the stage and where the audience sit. This makes the show so much more fun and intimate than what you would experience in a typical theatre. We can also see characters freely roaming the park, completely indulging in their own character, which is a fantastic touch.
What I most enjoy about MSC is its ability to seamlessly thread modern wit and 2000's pop tunes into a play that is centuries of years old. Who would have thought that Christina Aguilera's Genie in a Bottle could be incorporated so well into this traditional love story? Whilst the choreography could have been sharpened, the performances are always super fun and entertaining - definitely a hit with any little ones attending the show! Combined with the play's adaptation to be set in Australia, inclusive of some bogans and surfers, it's truly a fantastic contemporary adaptation.
This play has a superb cast of triple threats who can act, dance, sing and play an array of musical instruments throughout the show. The King, played by the brilliant Tref Gare, is always a standout. His commitment to character is always marvellous to watch. The King's friend, Lord Biron played by Callum Mackay gives a comedic, surprising and hugely energetic performance. Aside from his acting, I've never seen someone play the triangle with such conviction. Additionally, Alexander Lloyd is wildly confident and vivacious in his portrayal of the flirty Spaniard, Don Adriano. Lloyd is a standout in terms of his ability to engage the crowd and make you laugh out loud.
In typical Shakespeare fashion, there are a few smaller side stories to this play which were difficult to decipher at times. A small drop in stamina, especially when you're out in the elements with no lighting or sound assistance, can always cause a disruption in the ability for the audience to follow the storyline. Yet the direction by Jennifer Sarah Dean is excellent, especially in terms of using the space. Their staging is well rehearsed to suit the circular, open-air environment. While it's inevitable a performer will have their back to you within this type of stage arrangement, it absolutely always feels like you've got the best seat in the house.
The MSC never disappoint with their hilarious, family-friendly and modern adaptations to Shakespeare's work, and this show is no exception. Grab a picnic and enjoy the show.