Shakespeare

Vancouver, BC:  Before I say just how much I liked this fast paced, high energy, steampunk version of The Comedy of Errors, I should declare that I had the unusual pleasure of vicariously experiencing the evolution of this production as my daughter, Amanda, enjoyed the privilege of being Apprentice Director to the ingeniously creative director, Scott Bellis.

Today’s day time highlight other than a great chacha and samba dance class was lunch with two aunts, Essie and Rosaline, who were my mother’s first cousins, at the courtyard restaurant at Winchester Mansions on Beach Road, Sea Point . I caught up on the details of offspring and marriages for my family tree. My genealogy work sort of got put on hold for the pastg few years but I am slowly getting back to it.

Vancouver, BC: In Stephen Greenblatt's introduction to Richard lll in the Norton Shakespeare, he relates a story about Shakespeare and the play, said to have been recorded in 1602 in the diary of a London law student. The gist of it was that a woman was so impressed with Richard Burbage in the title role that she invited him to visit her that very night as Richard lll. Shakespeare contrived to arrive before Burbage. When the announcement came that Richard lll was at the door, WS sent a return message that William the conqueror was before Richard lll.  True or not, as Greenblatt points out, the story illustrates that despite Richard's physical deformities and anti-heroic villainy, this protagonist has exerted a compelling attraction on generations of playgoers.

Vancouver, BC. I really enjoyed this performance of Julius Caesar, directed by Katrina Dunn, on the Studio stage at Bard on the Beach. Or more correctly, I should say I thought the first half had some of the most powerful performances I have seen in a while. It always seems to me that the high point of the play is the powerful funeral oration by Mark Antony while the second half of the play, armies clashing and men falling on their swords, comes somewhat as an anti-climax after the earlier dramatic scenes of betrayal and the power of rhetoric.

What a great start to the 2007 season at Bard on the Beach. Last night's opening of "The Taming of the Shrew" definitely ranks among the best productions I have seen at Bard. It's not just that Bob Frazer's Petruchio, even dressed in a grungy wedding cape, could turn the most committed feminist into a simpering romantic. Nor his commanding initial entrance as the "Lone Stranger," come to "wive it wealthily" in Padua City. Those jeans!  Katharine (Colleen Wheeler) clearly did not stand a chance of resisting him.

Vancouver, BC: Timon of Athens is one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays and not often seen on stage. This production directed by James Fagan Tait is innovative and compelling in its use of choreography and sound. Tait adopts a minimalist approach to staging. A giant white tablecloth covers the stage for Act I and chairs are the only props. In Act 2 the stage is bare and the surface is unbroken save for Timon's cave.

Vancouver, BC: Well it is two for two so far for Bard on the Beach Main Stage this year. Both Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew provide great evenings of entertainment. Director Dean Paul Gibson's contemporary view of Romeo and Juliet had some really interesting interpretations both in character and in staging so there was plenty to talk about on the drive home – always a sign of good theatre to me. 

LONDON: England: The difficulty I had with Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" when I first studied it about five years ago was not resolved when I saw a Vancouver production that same year, and today's production at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre in fact exacerbated the problem.

The first English class I took when I went back to do my BA at UBC five years ago was a six-credit evening course on Shakespeare. So naturally one of the to-dos on my list for London was to see the recreated Globe Theatre. I decided to catch a Wednesday matinee of Antony and Cleopatra, one of the twelve plays and numerous poems I actually studied for my class.

Vancouver, BC. It's five-thirty on a clear, still Vancouver morning. I watch the rising sun spotlight the boats anchored in the waters of False Creek while gulls swoop and cry. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee complements the fragrance of dew-laden air entering my window. I breathe deeply and contemplate Shakespeare's depiction of the warring "heroes" of Greece and Troy, and their women.

VANCOUVER, BC - I first saw  The Winter's Tale more than a decade ago at Maynardville Open Air Theatre in Cape Town. It was a warm summer night and as the sunlight faded to dark and the moon rose, a gentle breeze rippled through the trees surrounding the stage evoking the ambience of pastoral Bohemia. The image of Hermione, frozen in time, holding on to her belief in the oracle's prediction of her daughter's return, and my emotional response to Hermione's "resurrection" and her reunion with Perdita, have stayed with me over the years.

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Who would have thought that Titus Andronicus, an early play in the Shakespeare canon, and unquestionably the most macabre, could supply such an excellent evening of entertainment. So hats off (or should we say hands off?) to director Jack Paterson and his cast for accomplishing this feat.