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Love’s Labour's Lost, Big Apple Circus

Posted 11/05/18

Love's Labours Lost reviewed  by Fern Siegel for


Shake & Bake: Love’s Labour’s Lost serves up a delicious Shakespeare. Literally. The famed comedy is part of an immersive dinner-theater experience, performed in the round for a maximum of 50 people a night. The custom-built space at 94 Gansevoort St., across from the Whitney Museum in Chelsea, serves its audience an eight-course tasting menu, created by executive chef David Goldman, as the play unfolds.

The culinary delights are planned around key moments in the play, which is a romantic comedy pitting noblemen who swear off love for study against the allure of several women. Guess who wins?

Led by Berowne (a standout Matthew Goodrich) and the King of Navarre (Darren Ritche), four clever women quickly seduce the once monastic men into romance.

The Princess (Victoria Rae Sook), takes a fancy to the king, while Rosaline (Mary Glen Fredrick), entrances Berowne. The princess may be young, but she’s also intelligent and a talented politician. 

Oge Agulue, and Rami Magron and Charles Osborne join them in the ensemble.

Throw in an over-the-top Don Armado (Caesar Samayoa) who loudly woos Jaquenetta (Rebecca Naomi Jones), and a madcap romantic revelry takes off.

A practice run for the more complex Much Ado About Nothing, Dan Swern directs this rendition of Love’s Labour’s Lost. Assigned couch or bar seats surround the acting space, creating an intimacy that enhances the singular presentation. 

Shake and Bake’s version of Love's Labour's Lost is a trimmed-down version, which keeps the pace lively. It also underscores key moments in the comedy with food.

For example, when the men disguise themselves as Muscovites, fooling no one but themselves, the audience is treated to shots of beet gazpacho, a stand-in for borscht. Delicious brisket tacos with vinegar slaw are served during intermission to represent the bounty of a successful hunt. There are two wine pairings and a specialty cocktail that will make your head spin. (Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.)

Movement director Sook's fun choreographed dances are executed as dishes are served, kicking up the whimsy. Shake & Bake’s version of Love’s Labour’s Lost mines the comedy’s silliness while scoring a theatrical and culinary success. 

A second experience, but geared to the family, is the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center. The one-ring wonder sometimes operates with a theme. This year, it’s theme-less, but still exciting. After all, no seat is more than 50 feet from the performers.

While it’s billed as family fun, it also helps to bring children comfortable with the two-hour time frame, including a 15-minute intermission.

There are dog and horse acts, as well as impressive new acts, such as iron woman Virginia Tuells and her husband Ihosvanys Perez, billed as “Duo Fusion,” an acrobatic combo of balance and strength. She lifts him with ease. The Flying Tunizianis, seven fliers and two catchers, are downright amazing. Performers in the group include his wife, two brothers and sister-in-law. The quadruple somersault by Ammed Tuniziani is extraordinary; only 10 people in the world have accomplished it. This year, they do a double-wide trapeze act never been performed in the history of the Big Apple Circus. It will leave you gasping.

Throw in super juggler Victor Moiseev and the clowning team of Mark Gindick and Adam Kuchler, among the eclectic acts, and Big Apple never fails to be a feast for eyes. — Fern Siegel