What a great production!
Did you ever think you would be clapping and singing along during a Shakespeare play, and leave humming a tune? If you want that pleasure, then, you must attend the 2018 Bard on the Beach production of As You Like It. This is the most enjoyable and unique presentation!
Shakespeare’s plays are timeless as the themes apply in any era and director Daryl Cloran courageously and outrageously moves into 1960’s Vancouver, the world of Wrestlemania, and the “Wild Okanagan”. He adds the music of the greatest band of all time, the Beatles. With this setting, Cloran and Musical Director Ben Elliott have chosen twenty-five songs that are perfectly blended into the original plot that includes feuding brothers, banished daughters, and the eventual true love and multiple weddings. Songs appropriately replace half of the text and reveal emotions and advance the plot.
A multi-talented cast who can sing, dance, play instruments and, of course, act make this blending work so effectively.
From the Pre-Show Wrestling match (a must-see) that has everyone singing Yellow Submarine, the production moves seamlessly into the play. Our hero, Orlando (Nadeem Philip) decides to wrestle Charles the Wrestler (Austin Eckert) to regain the inheritance his brother Oliver (Craig Erickson) has taken from him.
In the middle of the wrestling match he sees Rosalind (Lindsey Angell), falls into love at first sight and bursts into song, “Do You Want to Know a Secret”). He Is later warned of an impending attack on his life, and he and long time friend, Adam (Andrew Wheeler) escape to the wild Okanagan.
Rosalind’s father, Duke Senior (Scott Bellis) who also plays the evil Duke Frederick, provides for them in the woods.
Rosalind is sent away from Vancouver with her best friend, Celia (Harveen Sandhu). They are accompanied on their trek,(you guessed it) to the Okanagan by family employee, Touchstone (Kayvon Khoshkam) whose opinion of the rough woods life is the stuff of slapstick comedy. In the midst of his active and humourous rejection of rustic life he eventually meets and falls in love with Audrey (Emma Slipp). All of these actions are accompanied and enhanced by appropriate songs.
Further comic moments are provided by Phoebe (Luisa Jojic) who is in love with Rosalind in her male disguise of Ganymede but who eventually marries Silvius (Ben Elliott). Yes, the Musical Director Elliott also acts and plays in the band, much like rockers of the 60’s.
The addition of a wise older man, Jacques (Ben Carlson) dressed as a professor type, wanders through and has the main soliloquy “seven ages of man”, gets to sing “the Fool on the Hill” and writes poetry, I Am the Walrus.
The costumes by Carmen Alatorre are sleek and sophisticated for the Vancouver business crowd and become rich in tapestry and farm-homespun for the Okanagan area. The wedding outfits are lovely but still have the 60s feeling. Fluevog shoes are a local, luxury touch.
Pam Johnson’s set is two levels, with a mezzanine and a raised dais for the band. The wrestling ring was effectively used and taken down. The backdrop of Granville Street with its nightclubs, restaurants and neon signs, the flower painted VW bus, the lovely greenery of the Okanagan are beautifully done. Small touches like the martini glasses and cucumber for the picnic add to the Sixties ambiance.
As with all convoluted Shakespeare’s plays, all’s well that ends well. All the lovers marry, Duke Frederick loses, and we are rewarded with an amazing time.
I guarantee you an enjoyable experience no matter your age. It is a play you will want to see and hear again!