Yesterday was only the first time in all my three and a half years in Vancouver that I finally took in Bard on the Beach. I couldn’t decide what to see from their selections before heading back to Ontario in ten days, so I decided on a comedy: As You Like It.
We were informed at the beginning that this was still a rehearsal of sorts; the director, art, and costume might still tweak the production over the next week. This made me a bit nervous, as I was hoping for the proper presentation, however, I wasn’t disappointed.
I didn’t know very much of As You Like It going into the play, but was pleasantly surprised to find out many of Shakespeare’s famous monologues come from that it, including man’s seven ages.
The tent is new this year, and though I didn’t bring a blanket, I was dressed for the cool weather. The seating was very comfortable, and I barely looked at the city beyond because of the superb acting.
All in all, I found the play amazing. It now tops my list of the comedies, in no small part due the acting. Rosalind (Lois Anderson) was tremendous. She played the part of a woman playing a man amazingly, flipping from one state to another seamlessly. Celia (Louisa Jojic), Rosalind’s cousin, held her own next to such a strong actress. Todd Thompson played Orlando as a perfect fool in love, and his timing suited his love interest Rosalind. The Fool Touchstone (Ryan Beil), though a little quick in some of his speeches, was hysterical, and I even used his facial expressions (superb) as a distraction from the rabbit scene. (Honestly, who shepherds rabbits?) Ryan’s “ew gross” moments reflected exactly what the audience felt. I think Shakespeare would have been proud. Kayvon Khoshkam was a delightfully pathetic Silvius, and John Murphy plays a very melancholy Jacques.
The settings were simple but very effective, especially the trees. The designer of the rabbit props was a genius, if a touch graphic. I’m very glad they included several songs throughout the play, the voices and harmonies were well done. While the dancing was a little off by some of the actors, the fight scene made several of us gasp. While I know this play is a comedy, the actors were so good they made me and my guest cry at the scene before intermission.
All in all, a wonderful performance. I highly recommend As You Like It to everyone! If I had more time I’d see the rest of the plays. You can purchase tickets online here.