It’s Party at Phi-Psi, Shakespeare-style.
For the next couple nights, the front lawn of Phi Kappa Psi – usually calm and still as a millpond (for real fratboy action, go indoors)- will be turned into a battlefield to a dangerous sport. The game is love.Not the tragic, tear-jerking romeo-and-juliet kind that this company had previously proved so adept in – but the sort that hurtles testosterone-charged teenagers to the ground. No one leaves the field uninjured, nor without hilarious mudslinging. And for the audience, expect an evening clotted with wordplay that will bowl you over.
Love’s Labor’s Lost is a Shakespearean play that is long overdue for its Stanford reprise. It has all the college romance and drama that will be instantly familiar: awkward courtships, fratboy anxieties, andthe battle of the head against the heart. A crew of ambitious fratboys – eager to succeed and anxious about their GPA (how apt that it is set in Phi Psi, which has a reputation for high-GPA-fratboys) – vow to spend three years in celibate scholarly study, abjuring the company of women and booze. Enter a group of winsome ladies, and alas the commands of the heart (and shall we say, the loins) cannot be denied.
What follows – and I shan’t try to spoil the play for those who want to be surprised – are ridiculously hilarious sparrings charged with infectious energy, witty repartees and biting sarcasm. Not to mention the outlandish antics of chic French princess (Ellie Oates), the grandiosity of Don Adriano the Spaniad (Tim Borgerson), and the buffoonery of the frat-lords Ferdinand (Tim Shurz), Biron (Will Cox), Dumain (Kevin Hurlbutt) and Longaville (Graham Roth). Boys meet girls, and foolishness meets stratagems.
To love or not to love, that is the question. Hint: the arrow-wielding Eros always wins.
For all its light-heartedness, it is the more serious side of Love’s Labour’s Lost that makes it a play that’s more than college humor and bitch-please drama. This is why this play isn’t a breeze to pull off – the balance between senseless humor and the gravity of the poignant discovery that love “lives not alone immured in the brain” is a delicate one to keep. But the talent-packed cast has done a fantastic job, delivering the play with delicious panache and just the right amount of bittersweetness toward the end.
The modern twist, props to the director Camille Brown, is ingenious and thankfully, not cheesy. Nothing could have been more apt than staging it in a contemporary collegiate setting, and replacing the corsets with mini-skirts. The addition of pop music befits the romp, and Dumain’s (Kevin Hurlbutt) “Just Can’t Get Enough” hilarious dance solo is enough reason to go to the show.
It’s Week 8 and, as a Stanford quarter goes, things are getting crazy. But love and laughter are always worth making time for. This is a show you don’t want to miss.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is showing every day from May 22, 2013 through May 26, 2013. 8:00 PM at Phi Kappa Psi House 592 Mayfield Ave. Make your free seat reservation at shakespeare.stanford.edu. Bring blankets and warm clothes, it’d be cold.
Chi Ling Chan (’15, Political Science) is the Associate Editor and seeker of all things beautiful. She loves peanut butter and dreams of writing a poem out of peanut butter on a gigantic pancake and devouring it soon after. In her free time she goes around shooting people and things… with a camera, of course.