(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/31.)

The grassy green rectangle that occupies most of the stage is considerably smaller than a football field. But it is the setting for a dangerous sport, the kind that sends its players hurtling to the ground with cranium-rattling impact. The game is love. And though it may at first feel like a mild diversion, as contact sports go, it soon becomes clear that no one is leaving the field without injuries.

People fall down a lot, tackled by emotions beyond their control, in Karin Coonrod’s rowdy production of “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” which opened Monday night at the Public Theater. This streamlined interpretation of Shakespeare’s early comedy about men trying to do without women — and failing miserably — runs through its paces like a body-slamming lineman. But for all this production’s exhaustingly antic physicality it’s the words that, well, have the last word. That tends to happen with Shakespeare.


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