“Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “Love’s Labour’s Won (A Brief Account),” from The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works, by W. Shakespeare

As much as I wanted to read and understand the plays when I was in school–and forced to learn Shakespeare–I’m having a bit of a tough time with enjoying any of them at the moment…especially this one

Love’s Labour’s Lost is another comedic play, but more difficult for me to get into than The Comedy of Errors, which surprised me. That one had an interesting premise, and this one a bunch of love-struck people playing hard to get or the now-cliched “misunderstanding game.”

The general idea is the King and three of his court subordinates (Biron, Dumaine, and Longueville) are heading to another castle to be secluded from all distractions, especially women, and to become wiser and more creative men (in some way). The men are all quite different and bemoan how things are going to be without the things they love most, though they signed and swore an oath to stick with the king for 3 years in this experiment.

Well, it doesn’t take long before they’re reminded that the princess of France is coming with her entourage to talk about a land exchange. It makes things awkward when the king understands, but won’t budge, and therefore has the French party camp outside the castle in the meadows.

This leads his friends (and himself, the hypocrite) to end up spying on the ladies in turns while trying not to get caught by each other and the “entertainers” who are there to both entertain and keep them in line. And of course, these men fall in love with at least one lady each.

I hate to say it, but it took a lot longer to get through this one than I’d planned. Maybe it was bad timing or a tough week, but I just couldn’t get into the story. I don’t want to spoil the whole thing, because there are plenty of twists and turns, but that’s all it felt like…and about stupidity with the hard-to-get and disguises everywhere.

I get it, it’s a different time, but even though it’s to be expected, the whole rom-com “misunderstanding” moments get annoying to me. Throw in some mixed-up letters of endearment and “do you love me/no you don’t” and there you have it.

I’ll give credit to Love’s Labour’s Lost for one thing: the use of rhythm and rhyme. Heavens, there was a load of it. The dialogue seemed to bounce and made it a bit easier to read in the beginning.

But as the story went on, it began to wear thin on me.

***

Now, as far as Love’s Labour’s Won goes, that play hasn’t been found yet. There is a page of documentation indicating that the play existed and some speculation as to why it wasn’t put in any of the original folios that scholars have collected. But there’s a list of plays in one particular work that talk about it.

That said, it would be interesting to see if this play ever resurfaces…and if it’s a sequel of sorts to this one. I think it would be beneficial to read them both together if that was the case.

Well, here’s to hoping they find it. Hugs, and happy reading.

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