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Labor of Love

Idaho Shakespeare Festival celebrates love, humor and Russian disco


The green show is over. You've had some laughs, a bit of wine and raided the picnic basket. The setting sun nestles brilliantly against the foothills with such perfect grace, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful sight. Wine continues to flow plentifully, birds chirp peacefully and as the great bard's timeless words are spoken you get to settle back into your seat and let the show unfold for your eager ears and eyes. There just aren't many things you can find to complain about when you're spending an evening under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. But then Love's Labor's Lost starts, and suddenly I can find one or two things requiring criticism.

While the sets are tastefully minimalist and craftily engineered, there seems to be something missing. Perhaps that is the point of minimalistic sets, but sometimes you want to see more. At first, I liked them--they have a cool Magritte/Dada/topiary thing going on. Then enters the King of Navarre and his court of attending lords. Their classic tailored suits worked. I even liked that as the play progressed, the suits modernized. But the women's wardrobe? Here launches complaint number two. Salmon pink, lavender, lemon yellow and ivory? Really? Uh-huh, OK ... I dug it for a little bit, but then came more. And more and more? Matching robes. Matching dresses. Enough, for the love of God, please no more! The technicolor Skittles' rainbow of pastel fruit flavor is burning my retinas! Maybe they were trying to over-depict the difference between ladies of court and the country wench, Jaquenetta, whose costume was '50s milkmaid-siren-temptress meets '90s alternative chic. I felt it was overkill, overdose, overdone.

Now for the acting. I have to admit, I came away with a bit of a crush on Berowne, played illustriously by David Anthony Smith. He reminded me why I came to the show, then he took it a step further and reminded me why I love Shakespeare. He was funny, bold, sharp-tongued and witty. Berowne stole the show. The King of Navarre, Tom Ford, and his salmon pink doffed Princess of France, Laura Perrotta, wooed and found themselves in love. Their performances were, eh, not bad, but not great. They lacked a believable spark between them. Not so with Jaquenetta. Sara M. Bruner played a fetching country wench who made Richard Klautsch's Don Adriano De Armado sit up and take notice. Also drinking from the coquette's voluptuous well was country clown Costard, played with hilarious hillbilly perfection by Jeffrey C. Hawkins.

The best (and most surprising) part of the production had to be the invasion of the "Dancing Cossack Wooers." It was a most unexpected display of strange disco decadence and fully deserved the laughs and applause it received.

Love's Labor's Lost is mostly a lyrical romp in allegoric hay. An uncomplicated plot and wordplay fired at the speed of light makes it light hearted, but its unresolved ending seems too abrupt and feels a bit unwelcome. It is believed that Will composed a sequel, although its manuscript has never been found.

While it's worth seeing Love's Labor's Lost because Boise's esteemed troupe is always a delight to see, it must be said that I've enjoyed other productions from ISF more.

July 13-14, 19, 22-23, 27-28 and Aug. 12-13, 17-18, 22-23. Tues.-Sat. performances at 8 p.m., Sun. performances at 7 p.m. Sun., Tues. and Thur. $18 general, $28 reserved lawn or chair; Fri.-Sat. $28 general, $35 reserved lawn or chair. Idaho Shakespeare Festival, 5657 Warm Springs Ave. For tickets, contact the box office at 336-9221 or visit