Theater review: Love’s Labor’s Lost

You may have seen her in The Princess Diaries or Pretty Woman, but perhaps the grandest achievements of Kathleen Marshall are unknown to you.

Daughter of the late Gary Marshall, the director of Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries movies, Kathleen Marshall has made her mark in the theatre world. Her latest steps lead her to The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

The Old Globe Theatre and the University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program puts on a Shakespeare play multiple times throughout the year. This program holds only seven select USD graduate students, who are trained for two years in classical theatre. Marshall directed The Globe’s latest rendition of Love’s Labor’s Lost, one of the Bard’s early comedies.

The play uses all of Shakespeare’s favorite motifs, couples on the path to true love and an obstacle in their way. Unlike other Shakespeare plays, the obstacle in this one is not the disguise of a character or the misguided love of another. The obstacle in this play is celibacy.

A king and his three friends make a vow of abstinence to dedicate themselves to academia. The four made this pledge moments before the eligible—and very available—French Princess and her three lady friends arrived at the King’s court.

Providing the perfect amount of situational irony and quips, the actors had the audience in the palm of their hands. It has been about 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, and his plays still have people roaring in their seats with laughter. This production was no different: the audience’s high level of laughter spoke for itself about the excellent execution of Marshall’s rendition of Love’s Labor’s Lost.

While the play followed much of the expected storyline of a Shakespeare comedy, there were some parts that differed, such as the musicality of the ending. Marshall put her own twist on it and brought in her background and directorial prowess as a musical theatre connoisseur.

According to Playbill and The Broadway League Inc., Marshall is known for her Tony Award-nominated choreography in the Broadway production of Kiss Me, Kate (2000) and for her Tony Awards as choreographer in Wonderful Town (2004), The Pajama Game (2006), and Anything Goes (2011). She is also known for her Tony nominations for Direction of Musical for the same productions.

Marshall executed the timing and positioning of each scene with the kind of genius one could only expect from Broadway. Like many musicals, the set was as much a part of the play as any actor. The set held many hidden compartments, allowing actors to climb hidden ladders and reappear seven feet higher than before. Actors literally came swinging from the side of the stage.   Because of the detail of the set design, the audience was able to feel directly connected to the play.

Each actor, true to his or her roles, played up the hilarity of the play, but the one character that stood above the rest was the flamboyant Boyet. Boyet, the Princess’ assistant, was played by Kevin Cahoon. Cahoon flirted with the other actors and brought a perfect level of sass to the production.

Love’s Labor’s Lost does not end in ribbons and flowers, like its successors did, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It. The ending to this comedy felt a little disjointed, so Marshall’s additions fit into a form that already supports a quirkier finale.

Love’s Labor’s Lost might have wrapped production last week, but there will be more Shakespeare to come in November.

The Old Globe Theatre and The University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program will be performing Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Richard Seer, starting on Nov. 12th at 8 p.m.

By Sarah Brewington, Associate Editor