I was so excited to learn that LiFT, Little Falls Theatre Company is going to do William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost this summer, I sat right down to read the play (actual lounged right down, because I was reading in bed). I decided on my first reading (I intend to read it at least three times before auditions) I would just read straight through, not pausing to check the footnotes and end notes (the edition I was reading has both). I felt comfortable with this decision, because half the time I look at the footnote and think, “I could have figured that out by myself.” Not that I am so clever (sometimes I think I am); it’s just that the footnotes are sometimes kind of condescending.
Be that as it may, I thought I would make a blog post about my impressions of the play on one quick reading. Full disclosure: I have actually started my second reading of it as I write this. Fuller disclosure: it is fun for me to write this sort of thing.
The play starts out with the King and some of his guys all taking an oath that they will study for three years with no women. The King is actually pretty mean about it, because he says he will cut the tongue out of any woman who comes into the castle. I guess that goes back to the age-old contention (mostly of men) that women talk too much (don’t get me started on that, because I will).
One courtier demurs, saying “Dat’s crazy talk!” But, you know, in Shakespeare speech. Apparently when he agreed to study, he didn’t realize about the no women part. But I guess he agrees to go along with it (who can say no to the king?).
Then there is this Spaniard, Armadio, I think his name is, who must be the comic relief, and he is in love with Jacquenetta. There is some funny stuff between Armadio and Moth, which I probably would have got more out of if I had also read the footnotes. Incidentally, I did read an end note which said “Moth” was pronounced “Mote.” Good to know.
Next the Princess shows up with her girls and some guy attending them. They have some dialogue about how beautiful the Princess is, what her girls have heard about the guys in the castle, some other stuff I missed (reading fast, remember?).
Eventually the King and his guys come out. The King tells the ladies they are welcome but they can’t come in. He wants them to go camp out in some field and he will visit them there. I guess that is not a strict violation of his No Women While I Study oath, but I personally am skeptical. The Princess is not impressed either, but she does not hightail it back to France as I would have done, or maybe to some other country with a friendlier, non-stupid-oath-taking king. Hell, she’s a princess; she doesn’t have to put up with this kind of cavalier treatment!
There follow a couple of scenes with the guys and girls together. I think the guys give the girls tokens then leave. I was feeling pretty tired when I read that scene so am not sure. I was more awake when I read the next scene, where the girls naughtily switch tokens and mask up (to disguise themselves, not due to COVID, or I guess the plague at that time) (and let us not once again go into how easy it is to disguise oneself in plays, movies or TV; let us just accept that it is so) (for one reason, this post is getting kind of long). It works like a charm: the guys come back and all make love to the wrong girl. This is not the sort of thing that would have amused me when I was dating, but then, nobody is writing a play about me.
The guys leave and comeback again and some other stuff happens (I’m sure it will look better on stage). Just when everybody is in a fair way to getting engaged to the right person, a messenger comes on to tell the Princess that her father is dead. Wait, what? i thought this was a comedy? What the hell, Shakespeare?
So all the girls tell all the guys (one at a time, so it takes a while) that they will marry them if they wait a year. Well, that only makes sense, really. A year of mourning, isn’t that standard? Still, it seems a lot to ask. Or is it? In the first scene, weren’t the guys all ready to forgo fun in the sack for thee years just to study? I don’t think anybody mentions the discrepancy.
Be that as it may, the guys all agree, and everything ends happily. I guess.
Nobody needs to tell me that I probably got it all wrong, but feel free to do so if you are so inclined. Remember, I plan on reading it three times.