|The Musicians of Love’s Labor Lost|
A huge pink pig residing and barely fitting into the upper balcony of the Oregon Shakespeare Theatre – the space normally reserved for heavenly beings or musicians – along with a column of over-sized, silver-starred mylar ballons; a tilting quarter moon the length of a car; and stringed, rainbow-colored lights draped throughout the arena is a sure sign an evening of riotous, maybe even bizarre comedy is in store. If any doubt still exists, it is tossed out the window when a Blues-Brother-clad band (complete with the dark sunglasses) appears and begins to rock out.
|William Thomas Hodgson, Daniel José Molina & Jeremy Gallardo|
The young king of Navarre, Ferdinand (Daniel José Molina) — barely twenty, if that – announces to his three bro’s-of-sorts (who are also his attending lords) that women, food, and sleep are by royal decree going to be scarce in their lives for the next three years in order to devote their time to study. Their jocular, horseplay ceremony of signing the necessary oath resembles a group of college frat brothers whooping it up as part of initiation, with all hands eventually dipping into blue paint to imprint on their all-white wear spread-finger signatures of approval.
|The Royal Courts of Love’s Labor Lost|
But when it is announced that Princess Rosaline of France (Alejandra Escalante) is arriving with three ladies-in-waiting and intending to be received at the royal court (for possible courting), they discover they must now bunk in a near-by field. Boys being boys and girls being girls, the king’s decree is a challenge for all – including the king himself – to figure out ways to circumvent the order without getting caught. And thus begins all sorts of sly and silly strategies to send secret messages of love, to meet each other in supposed disguise, and to find hidden corners to sneak a few words – or better yet, a kiss or two.
|Tatiana Wechsler, Alejandro Escalante, Jennie Greenberry & Nina Feelings|
The free-love, flower-child, and frisky-filled days of the 1960s have clearly influenced the increasingly hilarious choices of Director Dehnert and her creative team. The all-white, flowing attires of both royal parties become canvases for multi-colored, paint-brush applications, as the young folk continually apply designs and paint strokes to their own and each other’s clothing (reminding one of scenes from the Summer of Love in San Francisco). Composers Amanda Dehnert and Andre J. Pluess have written multiple tunes that cast and band members occasionally step to the mikes on stage left to sing, songs that have flavors of the sixties in their lyrics about love and in their refrains full of soft-flowing harmonies. The lighting of Japhy Weideman, while not psychedelic, is certainly rainbow inspired, with even the gigantic moon shifting its hues to match the current mood.
|Richard Howard, Robin Goodrin Nordli & Chris Butler|
Jaquenetta is the required, local wench — in this case a savvy, tricky, and of course sexy one played wonderfully by Royer Bockus, who also steps up to the mike several times to ring forth in a crystal clear voice that sparkles in its delivered fun. Armando Durán is hilarious as the low-key constable – appropriately named Dull – always in dark glasses who can often be found munching away at the local diner along with an equally hungry schoolmistress, Holofernes (Robin Goodrin Nordli), and a church curate, Sir Nathaniel (Chris Butler). All three in multiple ways mock in wonderful hilarity the professions of which they so ably represent.