Love Labour’s Lost

This is not dinner theatre, it’s way better, it’s theatre dinner.

When I hear the words “dinner theatre”, I immediately think of mediocre food along with a cabaret or some okay’ish performance. Shake & Bake has decidedly tried to not brand itself that way, and for good reason. It isn’t that at all. It’s so much more scrumptious.

At curtain time, we are walked into a large room, surrounded by couches and coffee tables with full place settings. There is what looks like a chef preparing items on a cart, what looks like a waiter playing guitar, and other kitchen staff walking around doing things. When the play begins you realize that the wait staff and the acting staff are the same. And off we go into Act 1 of Love Labour’s Lost, or … the appetizer.

I loved this show. Throughout, we are both entertained by great theatrics, and generally wonderful food and wine. (Wine and Shakespeare really do go so well together). The cast was solid and entertaining all the way through, the hilarity never stops, the food never stops, the wine never stops and the music never stops.

Stealing the show, as intended, of course, is Charles Osbourne (as Don Armado de Adriano.) He is technically supposed to keep the King & friends entertained during their three year lent. But what he does is has the audience, transfixed, rolling in their seats the entire night. Who can forget the tong dance, or the licking of boots or the sublime popcorn cleanup ballet, among many other munchies.

Of course, the rest of the cast is strong too. Alan Trinca played the king on the night we saw the show, with a fantastic singing voice and musical chops. Other memorable moments include Oge Agulué’s (Longaville) & Rami Margron’s (Maria) painfully slow but hilarious descent to the piano bench, and Rami’s facial expressions while plaything that accordion-thingy as Costard. Everything from the Muscovites dancing to Back in The USSR, the single ladies dancing to Single Ladies, and of course the kitchen utensil fight had us all begging for seconds.

All the while, being served 8 courses, by these same actors. And note, the table service was better than in most restaurants!

To me, the true test of a successful Shakespeare rendition is that you forget you’re listening to and watching Shakespeare. I was so transfixed I even forgot I was in NYC, having been transported on this theatrical, musical, culinary journey in a King’s court I won’t soon forget.

Love Labour’s Lost
Shake & Bake Theatre
On through January 4, 2019

By Raymond Helkio

Raymond Helkio is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art & Design, whose work has been shown at international film, theatre, and design festivals including Inside Out Film Festival, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Design Exchange, Videofag, Art Gallery of Ontario, Glad Day Bookshop, Artscape and Nuit Rose.