Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in a 1930’s Newsroom

by Lucia Arreola

Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” was recently performed at the Claire Trevor Theater, from Feb. 21-25. The director, Andrew Borba, made an ambitious attempt at incorporating Shakespearean prose in the style of a 1930s newsroom. The play’s original setting of Navarre is transformed into a newspaper publication, with King Ferdinand as the editor-in-chief.

The king-turned-editor-in-chief was played by Gavin Mueller, with his lords-turned-reporters played by Xander Deangeles and Jalon Matthews. Matthews, along with others from the cast, had a dual role due to the plethora of characters Shakespeare in the play. Kieran Berry, Lilian Wouters, Kelsey Deroian, and Meg Evans were also tasked with the strenuous work of learning twice as many lines for this particular performance. Yet, no one faltered in their delivery; in fact, with such an excellent understanding of the language, the actors were even able to perform their strenuous speeches with a 30s flair, making the entire event not only fun to watch but fun to listen to.

The set itself transported the audience through time with all the trappings of a classic newspaper office — old-fashioned lamps and telephones, typewriters and a radio-set. The ‘elevator’ at the far side of the set was an impressive piece of craftsmanship used liberally throughout the show, a reimagining Shakespeare would have never imagined. The wardrobe, hair, and makeup were also reminiscent of the 1930s. The attention to detail  paid off for a spectacular ambiance throughout the performance. As a comedy, there was also a very jocular feel onstage as the audience filled the theater with laughter. The comedic timing showed the creative power of the cast and crew while the force of emotion exhibited in the last scene proved the immense dramatic talent and ultimate versatility of the actors.

Unlike most Shakespearean comedies, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” ends with the death of an offstage character. It is one of the details that makes this particular play so unique and such a challenge to perform — it must be both flippant and yet serious enough to garner a pensive mood in the crowd by its end. Shakespeare was a master at language, and his work may be reinterpreted however a director sees the script. The timeless humor the show had allowed the audience to feel connected to the characters and better understand the theme of love’s inevitable influence on one’s life. The characters’ struggles were very relatable; from the men finding themselves concerned with their attire around their significant others to their willingness to begin a long-distance relationship, done in such a way to remind the audience how strong love’s force truly is. Thus a stellar performance was achieved by the cast and crew behind “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in an unprecedented approach which the audience loved. Though a modest production, it was remarkable in its own right.