The 2010 Shakespeare Santa Cruz season will feature a slate of three plays that explore the theme of "love" in all of its ramifications-from first blush, to wrenching jealousy, to familial dysfunction of the highest order.

The renowned UCSC theater company's 2010 lineup includes Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost and Othello, plus James Goldman's The Lion in Winter.

Artistic Director Marco Barricelli continues to build upon SSC's reputation for producing inventive interpretations of Shakespearean plays, while introducing SSC audiences to more contemporary works by American playwrights.

"It is terribly important to me in building my third season during these economically challenging times that we continue to focus on quality and not take a safe road into theatrical malaise," said Barricelli.

"The boldness of our choices remain paramount-adventuresome offerings that continue to push our capabilities, challenge our audiences, and dig deep into everyone's souls. These are the markers I used to guide me in selecting this splendid season."

Among the intimate redwoods in the outdoor Sinsheimer-Stanley Glen, SSC will present two contrasting plays by William Shakespeare--the bittersweet, romantic comedy Love's Labour's Lost and the masterpiece of revenge Othello.

The indoor Theatre Arts Mainstage will be the venue for a drama of personality and political intrigue: The Lion in Winter by James Goldman.

All three plays will be performed in repertory from July 20 through August 29, 2010.

Love's Labour's Lost is Shakespeare's most profoundly Elizabethan comedy, replete with witty debates, dazzling wordplay, and strongly drawn comic characters. This bittersweet--at times hysterically funny--play was written around the time of the playwright's most prolific period (1595), the same year he penned Richard II.

The play is set in Navarre, a kingdom devoted to the quest for self-improvement through bookish study. The king's youthfully naive self-imposed command not to allow the distraction of women into the court is all but shattered with the arrival of the Princess of France and her feminine entourage.

The men, who had vowed to avoid all women in favor of intellectual pursuits, immediately fall head over heels and begin finding ways to allow the power of love to take its natural prominence over learning and the affairs of state. But the realities of life finally intrude on the revelries.

Shakespeare created two masterstrokes with Othello-one of his most hateful villains, and one of his most poignant tragic heroes. The work is a tour de force of revenge that examines the inner workings of a sick mind with astounding detail and explores how the power of suggestion can transform a perfect love into murderous jealousy.

Shakespeare sets Iago's pathological fiendishness against Othello's honesty, love, and integrity. The playwright subverts the racial stereotypes accepted by the audiences of his day to embrace the deception of appearances and the grave danger of assumptions.

The plot of The Lion in Winter sounds as if the play should be set in 21st century America, rather than 12th century Europe, with its insecure siblings fighting for their parents' attention; bickering spouses who can't stand to be together or apart; adultery and sexual experimentation; and the struggle to balance work and family.

Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, are battling each other to put the son they each prefer on the throne of England. The problem is that they don't agree on which of their three scheming sons it should be.

The Lion in Winter is the quintessential drama of family strife and competing ambitions, delivered with historical and psychological insight, breathtaking language, and delicious, biting cleverness.

Subscriptions for the 2010 season of Shakespeare Santa Cruz go on sale in March; single tickets will be available in April.

For more season and ticket information, please visit the SSC web site or call the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159.