The Stratford Festival has opened a new production of Shakespeare’s comedy “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in memory of company veteran Bernard Hopkins and in celebration of some of the Bard’s best language. The sheer joy of words and the way they are delivered is evident in John Caird’s simple, heart-felt production. Nicely-designed by Patrick Clark, the play has a lot of music supporting the show’s rhyming couplets. Sheer poetry is artfully delivered by a cast that is comfortable with the pulsing rhythms of the verse, particularly by Ruby Joy and Mike Shara. The story concerns four nobles who make a foolish oath to deny themselves the company of women, decent meals and adequate sleep, all in the name of education and the result is that they really learned about life and needs as opposed to suffering and denial.
Another comedy, this one by Ben Jonson, deals with the darker side of humour as three con artists combine to bilk as many suckers as they can in “The Alchemist”. I have long time friends and acquaintances who make a point of going to any play where Stephen Ouimette performs. They will find him at his peak in this show, where he plays Subtle, the ultimate conman. He is joined in his villainy by Brigit Wilson as Dol Common and Jonathan Goad as face, a pimp with ambitions to improve his lot in life. The entire cast is so cohesive that ensemble awards would be deserving, particularly Scott Wentworth as Epicure Mammon, a noble who believes that any base metal can be turned to gold. His costume is worth the price of admission. Everyone gives first-rate performances, but Jessica B. Hill stands out in the comic lel of Dame Pliant. Good fun at Stratford as the brilliant direction of Antoni Cimolino continues to provide quality classics that communicate with modern audiences.
Written by: Ric Wellwood