Love’s Labour’s Lost brings magic to Shakespeare

Lane Riggs

As the house lights dim, a world of magic sparks to life, bringing the works of Shakespeare and Harry Potter together. Wand fights, transfiguration potions and altered dialogue combined the two cultures and invited the audience to a more relatable rendition of William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Assistant Professor and Director Christie Maturo chose the comedic drama due to the school setting, age appropriate casting and the desire to bring Shakespeare’s work back to the MSU stage.

“I had never worked on this show nor seen it performed and I wanted to challenge myself,” she said. “It’s already hard to understand because it’s Shakespeare, and the story is so thin the plot barely holds together. Magic was my answer.”

Although Shakespeare is generally esteemed for his in-depth plots, this comedy’s plot can be interpreted many different ways and is considered one of his lesser works.

“Setting it at a school was an artistic choice I made in hopes of making the play accessible to our modern day college audience. In my acting and directing, I always strive to find how the world of the play and the characteristics can connect the actors and the audience,” Maturo said. “With this show, I found my first connection through setting it in an environment that all parties could relate to.”

According to Houston Pokorny, theater senior, the ambiguity of the plot and character background allowed the actors more say in the delivery of their characters.

“My character was told to deliver two letters, but he messes up which he is to deliver the letters to,” he said. “There are two versions, where he does it intentionally or he just doesn’t pay attention. There are also versions where he can’t read.”

Aware of the thin plot, Maturo decided to add a more prominent magical twist to the production than the original had.  

“There were a lot of circumstances that I found strange,” she said, “but when you put a magical explanation on much of the show, the actions and behaviors of the characters can be justified, and therefore, believable.”

Once this decision was made, the technical crew and costume designs brought the magical world of Harry Potter likeness into their creations. The male actors’ costumes show a similarity to Hogwarts attire and the Wolfington crest mirrors the Slytherin house crest. While the female costumes look similar to those of the Beauxbaton’s Academy that Harry Potter fans know from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

“It took a really long time to decide to take the risk to include magic,” Maturo said. “I knew I had to do it because it was iffy.”

Despite the explanation magic brought, some of the actors still found obstacles within the script, such as theater junior Ellanor Collins.

“My biggest obstacle was falling in love. When I read the script, I didn’t want to be any of the girls,” she said. “But over the rehearsal process, we played so much with our character, and I grew to fall in love. The hardest part was figuring out Shakespeare’s kind of love.”

Through overcoming the language, thin plot and fear of the unknown, the cast brought Maturo’s vision of a magical Shakespeare to life in their production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.  

“A lot of people hear about Shakespeare, and have a negative reaction,” English junior and actress Kalli Root said. “I want people to think that his plays can be fun and exciting, too.”