When the Moving Company chose to reshape Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, it imported dialogue from the Bard's three dozen plays, creating a touching and tragic meta-ride.
Those positive results are to be expected. The company's core comes from Theatre de la Jeune Lune, an innovative group that imploded under the weight of financial and creative stress in 2008.
Love's Labour's Lost is a most Jeune Lune-like show, right down to the rough-walled Warehouse District space. It has plenty of the risk-taking of the old company, with a familiar mix of the stunning and the annoying.
This is a slow-moving play at first, with 11 characters introduced in the initial scenes. These include Ferdinand and his three comrades. They have lost a war to France, and are about to dedicate the next three years to a monk's life of little sleep, simple food, and no women.
That plan lasts about a day. When the French send a princess and three maidens to negotiate terms, the wooing begins.
Unfortunately, the pace drags throughout the first half. Some of this is by design. Director Dominique Serrand (who created the production with Steve Epp and Nathan Keepers) methodically builds the atmosphere. But it doesn't take long to grasp the simple story, leaving the audience to wonder when the festivities will start.
That spark arrives with Berowne and Rosaline, followers of the princess. A mistaken letter divides their love. While this may be a rather trite plot device, it comes alive in the hands of actors Jim Litchtscheidl and Maggie Chestovich. The pair play with the complexities of Shakespeare's words, adding their own dimensions in nuanced performances.
The second act more deftly mixes romance and humor. Love's Labour's Lost is worth your time — if you remain patient and allow this lyrical production to find its feet.
IF YOU GO:
Love's Labour's Lost 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday $22-$32 The Lab Theatre More info at www.labtheater.org