Monday, April 2, 2012

'By my penny of observation'-A review of "Love's Labour's Lost" (BYU)

As the king of Navarre states at the beginning of Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost":

"Our court shall be a little Academe,
Still and contemplative in living art."

Foreswearing the company of women, Navarre's court of scholarly men sought to gratify their minds through pursuits of the academic nature.

In short, no girls allowed!

That is until the princess and her ladies come to visit. Then all bets are off!

Once beautiful ladies appear, scholarly pursuits take a back seat to wooing and romantic escapades. And so commences a humorous portrayal of the follies of men and women in love.

Brigham Young University's 1940's adaptation of Shakespeare's early comedy does a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the Bard's play, while at the same time taking creative liberties to capture the spirit of a memorable era in American history. The scenes are constructed to remind the viewer of the times during World War II. The costuming, lighting, makeup, and  sufficiently and accurately capture the nostalgia of the 40's lifestyle: the sailors, the dancing, and the music.

One aspect of the play that I found interesting was the combination of 40's lifestyles and surroundings mixed with Shakespearean speech. The speech remained true to the traditional publication form that Shakespeare employed during his time. However, this speech was applied to a time far more modern. This tactic marries two histories together.

But how can someone achieve this? How can two seemingly different points in time connect to one another?

The answer seems simple really. Shakespeare's work transcends time and we can relate the concepts and subjects found within his works to our current situations. The theme of "Love's Labour's Lost" is the pursuit of love and the hilarity that can ensue during such acts. People in every time have experienced moments of humorous love-sick pursuits, where words are misconstrued and goofy relationship mishaps abound. Shakespeare was not unique in his subject matter. Such themes apply to his time as much as they applied to the 1940's and even today.

Ultimately, Shakespeare can be perceived as the most influential literary figure because his works transcend time. All people have the capacity to find meaning in Shakespeare's words.

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