Remember gathering around the last twilight bonfire of summer-camp to say your goodbyes? The parting was always bittersweet; complete with some tears, silly songs and promises not to forget, because, somehow in such a short amount of time, you had made connections that would last a lifetime.
Or at least until next summer.
Something akin to that intense mixed-bag of emotions is charmingly captured by the Kentucky Shakespeare Globe Players in their rendition of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” which, instead of taking place in a royal court, is set at Camp Navarre. The Globe Players, Kentucky Shakespeare’s student company, consists of high schoolers from six different schools who studied and rehearsed under director Brian Hinds for six weeks this summer. And, though their version of the play’s setting is untraditional, the script remains largely unchanged.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost” tells the story of King Ferdinand (Michael Bailey) who decides to have a period of study and fasting at camp, so as to concentrate on educational endeavors. To avoid distraction, he imposes a ban on girls, and requires the members of his camp—Berowne (Brandon Burk), Longaville (Kavin Moore) and Dumaine (Andrew Taylor)—to comply with this stipulation.
However, King Ferdinand is visited by the Princess of France (Katlyn Judd), her friends—Rosaline (Caroline Glazier), Maria (Emma Payne) and Katherine (Stephanie Solis)—and their attendant, Boyet (Marty Chester). The princess, refused entry to the boys’ camp, is insulted by the ban, and in protest, begins to plot with her friends to get into the boys’ camp and hearts.
The special touches by Hinds in this rendering of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” are inspired; and they are executed by the Players in such a way that take a setting that could easily turn gimmicky, and instead turn it into something nostalgic. From the costuming that consists of camp T-shirts and Converse sneakers, to the inclusion of the Spongebob Squarepants “Campfire Song Song,” to the fireside marshmallow roasting and conspiring sessions—these were the moments that elevated the performance, while still giving an appropriate nod to the age of the actors.
The king, princess and members of their court all give energetic performances, aptly capturing the simultaneous bliss and foolishness of love. But it is Burk and Glazier, as the quick-witted pair Berowne and Rosaline, who really propel the show. Words and wordplays, which were infinitely important to the Bard, are an equally important part of their relationship—and Glazier excels in her timing and tone when bending Burk’s words and exposing his weaknesses.
Another standout performance comes from Grace Ording who, upon donning a mustache, plays the “fantastical Spaniard,” Don Armado. She delivers a pleasantly over-the-top interpretation of the character who falls for a country maiden, Jaquenetta (Moira Donnelly), after catching her with the foolish Costard (played by the animated Patrick Koshewa).
Overall, The Globe Player’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is a sweet, textured production that does not disappoint as the kick-off to “Act Two” of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival season.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost” runs through August 3. This is followed by four community partner productions: “As You Like It” by Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble, which runs August 5, 7 and 9; “Pericles” by Walden Theatre which runs August 6, 8 and 10; “Women of Will” by Shoestring Productions, which runs August 12, 14 and 16; and “King Lear” presented by Savage Rose Classical Theatre Company, which runs August 13, 15 and 17.