Youth is hardly wasted on the young in Love Is My Sin, Peter Brook’s shimmering adaptation of William Shakespeare’s sonnets. Brook has streamlined what is primarily Shakespeare’s extended homage to a callow “Fair Youth,” deftly molding 31 of his 154 poems into a fully realized exchange between two middle-aged characters. (Scholars believe Shakespeare was about 40 when he wrote the sonnets.) This realignment initially threatens to be a bit too grown up for its own good, as the tastefully robust Michael Pennington and the tastefully melancholy Natasha Parry trade tasteful laments about the passage of time, many set to wistful strains of Couperin (played with understated panache by Franck Krawczyk).
But as Love Is My Sin progresses to confront jealousy, separation, and other less philosophical matters, Pennington and Parry forgo the oratorical style and convey their characters’ hard-earned wisdom with consummate skill. Throughout, Brook resists the greatest-hits instinct, unearthing a fair number of relatively obscure sonnets. Shakespeare may bemoan that his “days are past the best” in number 138, but more than 65 years into a remarkable career, Brook is still going strong.