Monday, September 06, 2004

Sunday in the Park with Bill.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
- Touchstone, AYLI.

Went to catch As You Like It in High Park last night. It was the production’s last performance, a nice symbolic end to the summer.

I had avoided going to see it for a couple of months, mainly because I had been badly burned by ShakespeareWorks’ excruciating semi-outdoor production of Romeo & Juliet earlier this summer, a production so infuriating that it almost made me swear off outdoor-summer-Shakespeare for good.

I’m glad I didn’t: CanStage’s Dream in High Park production of As You Like It was everything outdoor Shakespeare should be. This isn’t to say that it was a revelation artistically. The goofy songs and choreography were ridiculous, corny to the max, and its production design (was it the ‘50s or the ‘20s or what?) was lacking in originality.

But it was fun. It was just good fun. This was a production truly aimed at families and young people. It was such a pleasure to see the hillside packed with audience members laughing and having a genuinely good time.

Most importantly, it was unpretentious, the kind of production that I remember getting me excited about Shakespeare in the first place. It let the beauty of the language shine through without making a big deal about it. I was transported back to my high school days, when I used to go see Shakespeare in the Park in Montreal with my theatre geek friends.

ShakespeareWorks should take a serious look at what CanStage does in High Park. It does exactly what ShakespeareWorks summer performances are supposed to do, allow “students and their families to be able to attend high quality productions locally, at a price that is accessible to all.”

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