One of the greatest opportunities New York City brings to the people during summertime is varied "Shakespeare in the Park" series across Manhattan. And while tickets for the Public's productions in Central Park may be hard to come by, at Bryant Park, all shows are free and seating is numerous. This month, The Boomerang Theatre Company's Love's Labour's Lost will be performed Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m.
Like many Shakespeare plays, Love's Labour's Lost embarks with a heavy plot. Ferdinand, the King of Navarre, and his three appointed Lords, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, swear an oath dedicating themselves entirely to scholarship, fasting, and the abstinence of women. Although seemingly foolish in nature, a document is signed and the scene ends. On the same day, the Princess of France visits the King with her three ladies to negotiate the territory of Aquitaine. As the Lords gaze upon the dainty Frenchwomen, their hearts fall deeply in love. Thus, a spiral of events ensue in which the King and his court's loyalty to their vows are tested. Along the way, we are additionally presented with characters like Costard the clown, a Spanish Knight named Don Adriano de Armado, his page boy Moth, and a wench named Jacquenetta.
Boomerang's production of Love's Labour's Lost focuses on the ties between man and emotion, desire versus duty, and love above all. If we do not allow ourselves to follow our innate impulses, we are not worthy of living: "Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile." Exceptional performances from Jason Loughlin (playing Berowne), Timothy W. Hull (the King), Sara Thigpen (the Princess) and Michael Russinik (Costard) make the story feel immediate and easily understood by modern audiences. Many actors ably portray more than one persona on stage, including Amanda Berry, playing both Moth and an opening lady in song and dance.
As the production ends, several entertaining scenes rapidly unfold, but there is no evidence of a definitive consummation between the Lords of Navarre and Ladies of France; the lingering, ambiguous finale allows the audience to imagine many different scenarios. Directed by Calin Heffernan, this talented cast successfully transforms an evening in Bryant Park to one in Northern Spain.
Thursdays through Sundays at 7 p.m. through the month of August.