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El vano afán del amor (Love’s Labor’s Lost) (Caballero, 2000)

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El vano afán del amor (Love’s Labor’s Lost)

Director José Caballero takes Love’s Labor’s Lost to the beach.

The pier, a wide-open sky, a multifunctional scaffold, fishing nets and beach towels set up this seaside Navarre. The flamboyant beachwear completes the nostalgic picture of a popular vacation venue. The robes in the beginning make the King and his court look like monks, yet underneath they wear shorts, striped shirts and Panama hats. The ladies wear glamorous 1950’s swimsuits with dress robes and matching hats that mock the gowns associated with princesses. The rest of the characters wear fisherman’s clothes, a sailor’s uniform, turn-of-the-century male swimsuits; Don Armado looks like a conquistador. His page, Mote, resembles characters from very popular Mexican sitcoms. His songs are also influenced by the traditional music from the coast of the state of Guerrero.

Such details bring the play closer to the Mexican audience. Alfredo Michel Modenessi keeps the audacious and ornamented language of the play and seasons it with distinct Mexican rhythms of speech and inflections. This bold Mexican flavor is particularly important for Cabezón/Costard and Mote. His adaptation also fuses the characters Dumain and Longaville into one “Dumainville”, and Maria and Katharine into simply “Maria”, thus reducing the play’s couples from four to three, with all necessary adjustments in key scenes. Perhaps the cleverest move is his creation of the character “Mercedes” who disguises as “Boyet”, and plays his part, only to be found out to be a woman near the end, with the ensuing complications. “Mercedes” also plays the lines of Marcadé.

Sunbathing and volleyball games serve as a backdrop for the elaborated game of playing at being in love. Signs of this love, letters and compliments, keep getting mixed up. Conventions do not seem to flourish in this tropical beach; rules are constantly evaded and exceptions prevail. Sophisticated and pretentious language confronts mockery and covered-up feelings that highlights the dangers that lurk behind an attempt to ignore the body and live solely on words.

The stylized transactions of love contrast with the jovial setting of the beach. The artificiality of the Muscovite’s masque stands out ridiculously in this tropical setting. The rowdy puppets used for the Nine Whorties make evident the undergoing double-entendres of the play. The blatant comedy is stopped by the dark news that announces how the real world and its demands cannot be kept at bay for long even in the idyllic seaside.


Type: stage

Year: 2000

Director: José Caballero

Play: Love’s Labor’s Lost

Language: Spanish

Venue: Teatro Ciudadela, Mexico City, Mexico


Direction: José Caballero

Translation and adaptation: Alfredo Michel Modenessi

Music: Alberto Rosas

Coreography: Nora Helene Manneck

Set Design: Arturo Nava

Costume Design: Cristina Sauza

Lighting Design: Arturo Nava



Irving Corral-Fernando, Rey de Navarra

Everardo Arzate-Berowne

Raymundo Pastor-Dumainville

Daniel Rivera-Armado

Mariana García Franco-Mote

Edson Martínez-Chato (Dull)

Héctor Holten-Cabezón (Costard)

Mónica Jiménez-Holofernes

Javier Guardado-Natanael

Patricia Marmero-Mercedes/Marcade

Ana Ligia García-Princesa

Olga González-Rosalina

Carmen Trejo-María

Milleth del Carmen Gómez-Inmaculada Concepción (Jacquenetta)


Season start: May 22, 2000



Newspaper La Jornada:


El vano afán del amor (Love’s Labor’s Lost)

El vano afán del amor (Love’s Labor’s Lost) : Full Video

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