Tripaway Theatre calls it “Shakespeare’s most unpopular comedy.” No question, the play is full of in-jokes that, four centuries later, are DOA. But Tripaway’s open-air revival of this courtly comedy (offered last weekend in Lincoln Park and this weekend in Bucktown) deserves an audience. Director Karin Shook refuses to succumb to the creaky plot–four scholar-courtiers who vainly flee the shafts of Cupid–instead inspiring the 15 rough-and-ready actors to combat Shakespeare’s sometimes tedious raillery with hearty slapstick. Dressed in burlap vests and black shorts and cartoon-faced in white makeup, the players employ outsize gestures and leather-lunged projection to hold their own against outdoor distractions. It works: the young cast brings a hormonal urgency to this mating play–it’s as if the French court had become a ritualized singles bar. Nobody’s labor’s lost here. Association House lawn, 2150 W. North. Saturday and Sunday, 3 and 8 PM.

–Lawrence Bommer

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Todd Norwood.