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Bard on the Beach: Love’s Labour’s Lost: A Review

Shakespeare has long-been a staple in literary society, his works touching and enriching the lives of many. He has earned widespread recognition for his talents, including towns dedicated to him and numerous festivals honoring some of his best works. However, he is often viewed as inaccessible due to the complexity his works breed. Vancouver’s ‘Bard on the Beach’ has accomplished the feat of bringing Shakespeare to the masses. Earlier in September, Ms. Clarke’s AP English Literature and Creative Writing class as well as Ms. Lyon’s AP English Language classes, had the opportunity to attend a showing of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at the annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Kitsilano. It proved to be a show infused with rich humor, dexterity and most of all, entertainment.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” was presented as a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s original work. It was morphed into a wonderfully choreographed, much unexpected musical performance filled with actors who seemed to have just as much fun performing it as it was to watch. The story surrounds the trivialities of falling in love for the first time and the struggles of how to present yourself while at the same time masking the extent of your true feelings. It is a story imbued with friendship, laughter and in this case, song. This particular adaptation was scarce of the usual transience that seems to grace all of Shakespeare’s plays, the overabundance of tragedy lacking in a way that made you become entranced in the story without the over investment. It was a way to make Shakespeare seem more attainable and tangible to the average student. The language was still challenging, as expected, but the way it was performed allowed for universal understanding— a nice attribute of seeing something actually come to life as opposed to reading it from a text.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” was an interactive performance, happening right in the middle of all the action, a “theatre in the round.” Characters communicated with members of the audience, including a few Collingwood students in which one of them sat in the laps of those who were sitting in the front row. Being so close to the excitement allows the viewer to be able to experience the entire show uninhibitedly. You are as a part of the performance as the actors. Bard on the Beach does an excellent job at executing their productions in an enthralling way, but at the same time subtly casual. The two stage venues back onto the ocean and the outdoors, giving the audience a different, more raw, feel than if they were done in an actual theater.

The real magic in the performance lay with the many multi-faceted actors who seemed capable of doing anything. One minute they were reciting a lengthy soliloquy and the next they were breaking out in song and prancing across the stage effortlessly. Instruments were played, ballads were sung, characters skirted the boundaries of gender and drag even made an appearance. The show only proved the seemingly endless talents of the actors who round out Bard on the Beach. Overall, the presentation of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” proved to be a well-oiled machine on all levels from the level of costume design to the songs that seemed to permeate a sense of joy to those into their vicinity. Well done!

By: Emily Larman

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