No one knows how, when, or where it began. Could be, perhaps, it began with the Bard himself before he gained any semblance of notoriety. Perhaps he was just a lad, playing sketches before his friends on the lawn?
However it began, it has certainly proved a popular and cheap way to stage the royalty-free works. I first experienced the joy of outdoor Elizabethan Theatre some years ago with a production of “The Taming of the Shrew” in Vancouver’s Esther Short Park. And the tradition continues with this production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” presented by Bag & Baggage in Hillsboro, Ore.
|The plaza setting for the Bag & Baggage Production of Shakespeare's "Loves Labour's Lost."|
|Costume test and couples pairing for B&B's "Love's Labour's Lost"|
The plot is loose, convoluted and not extremely important--think early situation comedy--but here it is in a nutshell:
King Ferdinand and his friends devote themselves to three years of uninterrupted "study" and NO women will be allowed within a mile of their court to interfere with their academic pursuits—that is, until the Princess of France arrives with her entrancingly distracting entourage of gorgeous ladies-in-waiting! They tease the boys then--with disguise, deception, mayhem, and romantic mischief--drop them like hot potatoes. No, this Shakespearean comedy doesn't end with weddings.
|The Princess (center) and her ladies: Jessi Walters (L), Cassie Greer, |
and Arianne Jacques (R).
The show is billed as "a light-hearted romantic romp, outdoors in the glorious surroundings of the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza—with stunning Italian-couture costumes by Melissa Heller and starring some of B&B’s most recognizable outdoor performers—riding in on Vespas! Perduta di lavoro la dolce vita di amore!"
|L to R: Andrew Beck (the King) with Chip Sherman and Luke Armstrong.|
The direction, by Palmer is, as usual, quite well done. Striking, really--especially in the blocking. The "runway" stage, with audience members on both sides, worked well, primarily because Palmer knew how to make it interesting. However, one must give the players quite a bit of credit as well; these are some of the Portland Metro Area's finest.
|Front facing: Gary Strong throws it all in as Armondo.|
Especially strong and delightful performances were given by Myers, Syron and Strong; all have great comedic skill. Having seen Syron and Strong in previous--and quite different--roles, I was particularly impressed. Strong, especially, excelled--throwing himself fully into his role. He was absolutely brilliant in this part!
|Adam Syron (kneeling) as the servant, Moth.|
|The Princess and her ladies and the King and his men, dressed for the ball.|
The show's remaining performances are July 26, 31, August 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9; 7:30 p.m. at The Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza, 150 E Main Street, Hillsboro, Ore. Tickets: $18, may seem a tad steep for a royalty-free, low tech budget, open air production, but B&B does pay their resident actors.
|Photo by Ruth Zschomler.|
By Gregory E. Zschomler
Photos, except as noted, provided.
For another perspective by Dennis sparks, click here.