Trinity College’s iconic quadrangle was once home to one of the largest outdoor Shakespeare festivals in Canada. The Trinity College Dramatic Society (TCDS) has continued this tradition with an annual Shakespeare in the Quad production each fall to begin their season. This year, the TCDS is shaking things up by staging a modern musical retelling of the Bard’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, written by Alex Timbers and with music by Michael Friedman.
The musical is set in front of a hotel in a university town, where alumni students from said university are visiting for a school reunion. The King and his buddies swear an oath to stay away from women, which becomes increasingly difficult when girls from their past arrive. In classic Shakespearean comedy style, the story is filled with hijinks, miscommunication, and the chase for love.
Director Nicole Bell, a third-year theatre student, revealed that she was drawn to this show after listening to “Love’s a Gun” off the soundtrack. While the lyrics provide a commentary on heteronormative relationships, she realized that the songs in this show “are so easily steeped in queer narratives” as well. “I picked this show because it’s fun and it’s goofy, but I found meaning in it,” Bell said.
“This show is about love, [but] what I wanted to do with the show is ask the question ‘who has the right to love?’” Bell continued. By casting the show completely gender-blind, the production attempted to show that everyone has that right.
Moreover, most of the show’s five couples are queer and interracial, aspects that were particularly important for Bell to have represented on stage. “I really wanted to try to accent one or both, and I’m very lucky that I got to accent both,” she shared.
Bell mentioned that there are moments when actors break the fourth wall and interact with the audience, and these won’t be the only instances where reality and fiction intermingle. After Bell got a hold of the libretto, she discovered that the original production was also set outside, in New York City’s Central Park, and that the band had doubled as the one for the university reunion as well. This will be replicated in the TCDS production. “I’m glad that I have the opportunity to take some of the original aspects of the show and bring it into this space,” she added.
The Trinity College Dramatic Society’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost opens Wednesday, September 27 and closes Saturday, September 30.