Love's Labour's Lost, by William Shakespeare
I wanted to hit 90/150 on my Classics Club list by the end of the year (I decided this right before Christmas) so I figured a Shakespeare play would be about right. I wanted a comedy that I hadn't read before, so I chose Love's Labour's Lost (it was a competition between that and The Merry Wives of Windsor). After all, I just read a fun mystery that featured a newly-discovered script of Love's Labour's Won (Love Lies Bleeding, by Edmund Crispin, in case you're dying to know).
The plot: Ferdinand, King of Navarre, talks his three best buddies into entering a three-year pact to study hard and practice virtue. They will eat only plain food, fast once a week, sleep little, and...never talk to any women at all ever. The impracticality of this silly plan is promptly revealed when the Princess of France shows up--with three of her best friends--to conduct some diplomatic business. Naturally, each man falls in love with a lady and tries to conduct a love affair without letting his friends know about it. The ladies are not going to put up with this. And so on. The play does not end with a wedding, though; the ladies head back to France on further business, instructing the gentlemen to come for them in a year to prove their fidelity.
The play has some basis in history, and the characters are based on real people. Ferdinand is Henry of Navarre. There is a whole lot of wordplay; much of the dialogue piles up the witty puns as high as they'll go (and this being Shakespeare, that is pretty high). There are comic interludes in the comedy; this must have been a laugh riot in 1595. I thought it was fun, but it was pretty light and didn't have the same feel as the more famous comedies.