By David Walters

Shake & Bake’s production of LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST ruined Shakespeare for me.  At least for a while.

This is a creative, fun and audience-involved event that satisfies all of the senses.

It’s Shakespeare’s comedy, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST, condensed and performed in the round, and as part and parcel to the event the actors prepare and serve a wine-parred eight-course meal to the audience.  They can accommodate all forms of food restrictions, so don’t hesitate to go on that regard.

Directly across from the Whitney entrance on Gansevoort Street, the audience of about 50 is ushered into the playing space (a converted garage that was built specifically for this production, kudos) to assigned couch or bar seats surrounding the acting space, accompanied by the dulcet tones of a Spanish guitar played by the King of Navarre (Darren Ritchie) who improvises songs from audience suggestions.  There is an immediate welcoming interaction between the actors and the audience setting the stage for the adventure to come.

The sickly king of France, unable to make the trip to repay a debt, sends his daughter instead.  Just before she arrives, the King of Navarre has made a pact with his men, Longaville and Berowne (Oge Agulue, Matthew Goodrich): for three years, to forswear women, sleep three hours a night and eat six meals a week in order to devote themselves to study.  When the Princess arrives (Victoria Rae Sook), she is forced to camp in the fields outside the Navarre castle so that the king can keep to his three-year plan.  Of course, trouble ensues as the king and his men fall head-over-heels for the lady and her maids, Maria and Rosaline (Rami Margron, Mary Glen Fredrick) and try to go behind each other’s backs in their love quests.  The women scheme to thwart the three-year pact and win their suitors hands and hearts.

Since I was able to watch my fellow audience members throughout the show, I could see that the multi-generational attendees were truly captivated, as was I, by the adventure, joined in the experience and became completely involved with the creativity of both the show, the drinks and the food,

The fun of the evening, sprinkled with delightful music (including the group sing of Daryl Hall and John Oates’, You Make My Dreams Come True) was accompanied by creative dances (choreographed by Victoria Rae Sook, who co-conceived the event) performed during course servings, and the lovely ballet of love twirled out on a restaurant serving cart between ladies’ maid Rosaline and the king’s man Berowne, were just a few of the many surprises of the evening that put a smile on my face.

I must mention and highlight the clowning antics of the characters Costard (performed by the Cheetos snorting Rami Margron) and the Dom DeLuise-esk (that’s a good thing) Charles Osborne, brought peals of laughter to the whole audience.

Everyone left happy in mind, body and spirit.

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST by William Shakespeare, Directed by Dan Swern

WITH: Oge Agulué as Longaville, Mary Glen Fredrick as Rosaline, Matthew Goodrich as Berowne, Rami Margron as Maria/Costard, Charles Osborne as Don Adriano de Armado/Boyet, Darren Ritchie as King Ferdinand of Navarre, Victoria Rae Sook as Princess of France, Alex Spieth as Understudy, Alan Trinca as Understudy, and Joe Ventricelli as Chef.

Lights/sound/costume design by Dan Swern.  Production design by Shawn Lewis and Justin West.  Original music by Darren Ritchie and David SeamonDavid Goldman is your chef for the event.

Running time is approximately 2 hours with intermission. Ticket prices: $75 – $200.  Buy tickets HEREShake & Bake‘s LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST is at 94 Gansevoort Street Tuesdays-Thursdays: 7pm, Fridays: 8pm. Saturdays: 1pm and 8pm or 5pm and 9pm, Sundays: 11am or 1pm and 6pm