Within the Limit of Becoming Mirth
This energetic production of Shakespeare's comedy about forbidden love came off relatively well despite some opening night stumbles and the occasional jittery line.
The cast of the SRT's Young Co. produced a vigorous energy that was well-suited to the mischievous, playful tone of the work, in which the King of Navarre and his three courtiers break their oath of abstinence from women and pursue the Princess of France and her three ladies-in-waiting. The women play pranks on the men and end up falling in love with them, but the romance grinds to a halt when the Princess receives news that her father has died, and the four women decide to wait a year before meeting with their new beaux again.
If the plot of Love's Labour's Lost seems easily digestible, the script is less so. Overflowing as it is with literary conceits and references, the script has been described as inexplicable and unintelligible, and often cited as a reason for the play's unpopularity. Thankfully, the original script had been assiduously trimmed to a manageable two hours, and the production trotted along briskly, skipping over the longer passages and those that weren't essential to the play. Given the amount of audience concentration required to absorb and appreciate each sophisticated literary construct, the trimming was welcome and did not detract from the self-consciously clever tone of the script.
The cast, drawn from the participants in the SRT's two-year, part-time training course in theatre and acting, was understandably varied in quality. For the most part, voice and diction were good. Some spoke their Shakespeare admirably and with charming inflections, such as Rishi Budhrani (playing Berowne) and Victoria Lim (playing Rosaline), which made their characters truly enjoyable. The supporting cast, while less accomplished in their diction, was rich with comic talent that was put to good use. The comic timing and chemistry displayed by the ensemble were the highlights of the production, producing laugh-out-loud moments worthy of any professional Shakespeare troupe. The humour was witty, but it was also physical and at times lowbrow - characteristic of the most amusing moments in Shakespeare.
Boyet from the Princess' court (Muhammad Ruzaini Bin Mazani)
had a touch of camp about him that complemented the feminine sassiness
of the four ladies. Budhrani's Berowne was slightly over-the-top,
but this energy worked well with his male and female co-actors. His
quick instincts onstage also made the best of an embarrassing situation
involving an accidental falling prop. The clown Costard (Yazid Jalil)
was rather hyperactive, but got under your skin in a good way.
It was remarked that the production was "student-y", which I agree with in the sense of its being a little rough around the edges. This could have been due to a combination of nerves, the part-time nature of The Young Co., and the challenges of the script. The sound and costumes could have been a tad more finished too. All in all, however, Love's Labour's Lost was an enjoyable production which did justice to the comedic elements of Shakespeare's script. It also debuted a few new talents whom I hope to see more of onstage, and who I daresay could soon hold their own alongside more experienced actors.
This energetic production of Shakespeare's comedy about forbidden love came off relatively well despite some opening night stumbles and the occasional jittery line. The SRT's The Young Co. cast produced a vigorous energy that was well-suited to the mischievous, playful tone of the work. Most successful were the comic timing and chemistry that worked throughout the ensemble, creating laugh out loud moments worthy of any professional Shakespeare troupe. Given the challenging task of mastering the linguistic sophistications that characterise this work, and of conveying the playwright's ironic treatment of them, the cast handled itself steadily and with panache. Although it was remarked that the production was "student-y", Love's Labour's Lost was highly enjoyable, plus it displayed many potential talents whom I would hope to see more of onstage.
Ratings out of 5, based on
Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent /