Category Archives: Love’s Labor’s Lost

Theater review: Love’s Labor’s Lost by Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival

Last night, Lisa and I caught Love’s Labor’s Lost by Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival at the start of its closing weekend on the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. Now, those of you who have been around since (near) the beginning of this project probably know how I feel a out Love’s Labor’s Lost. Not a huge fan (it ranks down in the lower quarter of my favorite plays). People who’ve been around nearly as long also know how I feel about Kingsmen. A big fan.

So which wins out?

Continue reading Theater review: Love’s Labor’s Lost by Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival

Much Ado About Nothing: Love’s Labor’s Won?

Last month, the Royal Shakespeare Company opened a duet of plays, Love’s Labor’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing. Only the RSC isn’t promoting the two plays as that bill. Instead, they are presenting Much Ado as Love’s Labor’s Won.

Now for those who don’t remember, Love’s Labor’s Won is a play referenced in 1598 in a book that mentions both Lost and Won as being by Shakespeare. Its text has never been found, though. Many consider it a lost play, while some critics have claimed it is an alternate title for another play (much like how some critics believe the original performance title of Richard III was Buckingham, and the subtitle of Twelfth Night is “What You Will”), with the most popular suspects being Troilus and Cressida, The Taming of the Shrew, and–you guessed it–Much Ado About Nothing.

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An Audience with an Ass

The performance of “Pyramus and Thisby” at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is met with some sarcastic commentary by the Duke and his wedding party.  I initially thought that their statements were not as cruel as those lobbed at the inept performance of the “Show of the Worthies” at the close of Love’s Labor’s Lost.

Now I’m not so sure.
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Podcast 34: Love’s Labor’s Lost–A Mashed Up Wrap-Up

This week’s podcast is the conclusion of our month-long discussion of Love’s Labor’s Lost, including a little wrap-up, touch upon the writings of Harold Bloom about this play, and I’ll play around with a mashed-up production concept.  Then we’ll do our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
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Love’s Labor’s Lost by the Numbers: Overall

Love’s Labor’s Lost

  • 2665 total lines; shorter than average play, longer than average comedy (average play: 2777; average comedy: 2424)
  • At 360 and 914 lines, Act Four Scene Three and Act Five Scene Two are the longest of their kind in the Canon
  • Act One: 476 lines; shorter than average, sligntly shorter than average comedy (average play: 590, average history: 488)
  • Act Two: 257 lines; shortest second act in the Canon; shorter than average (average play: 568, average comedy: 495)
  • Act Three: 202 lines; shortest third act in the Canon; shorter than average (average play: 576, average comedy: 512)
  • Act Four: 671 lines; longer than average (average play: 563, average comedy: 460)
  • Act Five: 1059 lines; longest fifth act in the Canon; longer than average (average play: 480, average comedy: 471)
  • 935 lines of prose (35.08% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 13.31%, Titus Andronicus: 1.39%, The Taming of the Shrew: 20.82%, 1HenryVI: 0.37%, 2HenryVI: 16.64%, 3HenryVI: 0.14%, and Richard III: 2.89%])
  • 272 rhyming lines (40.86% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 20.10%, Titus Andronicus: 2.42%, The Taming of the Shrew: 3.93%, 1HenryVI: 9.79%, 2HenryVI: 3.16%, 3HenryVI: 5.37%, and Richard III: 7.55%]… but a whopping 62.95% of poetic lines [the previous leader was The Comedy of Errors at just over 23%])
  • only 9 scenes; tied with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest for the fewest in the Canon); less than average (average play: 21; average comedy: 16)
  • only 19 characters (tied with The Comedy of Errors and As You Like It for the second lowest total in the Canon, behind only next month’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (17); less than average (average play: 36, average comedy: 22)

 

In Love w/ Death: Labor=Birth & Lost=Death (the Countdown Edition)

I shouldn’t be surprised given the recurrent death images in Love’s Labor’s Lost, that the play ends without a classically comedic conclusion.

The imagery begins early, in the play’s opening sentence:

Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registered upon our brazen tombs
And then grace us in the disgrace of death,
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
The endeavor of this present breath may buy
That honor which shall bate his scythe's keen edge
And make us heirs of all eternity.

— I.i.1-7

In this opening line, the King sets forth the proposition that what he and his fellows are going to attempt will outface death, and give them eternal fame.  As we latter learn, their goal is less than earth-shattering, and the concept of defeating death by studying for three years is laughable.

So why is it here?  You would think that a play about learning (ostensibly) or love (more clearly) would fill its opening speech with imagery more befitting those subjects.  But no.  Why?
Continue reading In Love w/ Death: Labor=Birth & Lost=Death (the Countdown Edition)

Podcast 33: Love’s Labor’s Lost–Bawdy Bawdy Bawdy (The RESTRICTED “greasy lipped” Episode)

This week’s podcast is a continuation of our month-long discussion of Love’s Labor’s Lost, focusing on the bawdy humor in the play.

NOTE: This podcast contains mature subject matter and adult language (as well as adolescent humor and naughty bits, lots of naughty bits)… SO, if you’re easily offended, you might want to skip this one and wait until next week’s podcast, a return to safe-and-sane discussions.

Then we’ll finish up with our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
Continue reading Podcast 33: Love’s Labor’s Lost–Bawdy Bawdy Bawdy (The RESTRICTED “greasy lipped” Episode)

A Bone to Pick? Well, Duh…

Back in November, when I saw the Shakespeare’s Globe touring production of Love’s Labor’s Lost up in Santa Barbara (short review // full review in podcast), I mentioned that in the critical press, some balked at the edit of the play, complaining that the (pre-intermission) first half runs all the way to the end of Act Four.
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Rosaline: The Dark Lady

As we noted earlier in this month’s discussion of Love’s Labor’s Lost, there is much dramatic conversation (mostly derogatory) about the complexion of Berowne’s object of affection, Rosaline.

The King and his men are shocked over Berowne’s love because

  • she “is black as ebony” (IV.iii.243)
  • “To look like her are chimney sweepers black” (IV.iii.262)
  • “And since her time are colliers counted bright” (IV.iii.263)
  • “Ethiops of their sweet complexion crack” (IV.iii.264)
  • she is the same color as a “shoe” (IV.iii.273 stage direction)

Berowne himself describes Rosaline’s eyes as “two pitch balls stuck in her face” (III.i.194), but never directly discusses her complexion.  His description of “toiling in a pitch — pitch that defiles” (IV.iii.2-3) could refer to her skin color but more likely to her eyes as he references them later in the same speech (IV.iii.10).  Earlier in the play, he describes his love as a “whitely wanton” (III.i.193).  In Shakespeare’s day, however, “whitely” could mean either “Whitish; pale; light-complexioned, ‘fair’” (note that this is not the same as being “white”) or “quietly” (Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM [v. 4.0]), and either works (she could be not quite as white as the other women of the party, or maybe this could be a reference of her being “quietly wanton”).

The Elizabethan standard of beauty was deathly white (so much so that makeup also included the light drawing-in of veins below the skin) and blue-eyed. Rosaline obviously doesn’t fit this mold.  So if she has little in common with the stereotypical beauty, might she have more in common with another Shakespearean character?
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