Review: Romeo and Juliet – CanStage TD Canada Trust Dream in High Park

Never have I been more proud to be a Torontonian, than after seeing Canstage TD Canada Trust Dream in High Park. It was, simply the BEST Shakespearean production I have EVER seen, ANYWHERE.

This season’s production of Romeo and Juliet was clever, beautiful, and accessible. It retold the familiar story with an infectious energy and all without pandering to young audiences or needlessly resorting to “modern-day” vernacular.

The Canstage TD Canada Trust Dream in High Park encourages viewers to bring a picnic dinner, and most bring full course meals and comfy blankets. (You can even rent blankets there if you’ve forgotten your own.) The amphitheatre radiates from the stage and then climbs up a partially landscaped hill so you can sprawl out above those in front and have an unobstructed view.

Even when it began to rain, I watched the audience silently opening umbrellas or tucking each other under blankets to stay warm rather than risk leaving early and cutting the experience short.

Romeo and Juliet used the outdoor setting to their advantage. The play was condensed to around an hour and half (easier on the butt that way!) and also used all angles and levels on the stage to ensure a great viewing experience no matter where one picks their picnic. As the sun faded, the stage lights grew with perfect, equal intensity.

The cast of 9 actors flawlessly played all 18 characters with a fluid ease (Romeo and Juliet remained constant). The supporting cast fleshed out the tense familial situation, and yet tactfully reminded the audience of the entertainment in live theatre (as the finale dance number will attest).

The Nurse was a delight, equally capable of emotional severity and of light-heartedness as director Vikki Anderson’s choice of cross-casting (or, being authentic to the Shakespearean era) was well made.

Both of the lovers were youthful, emotional, and clearly star-crossed. I believed their innocence, enthusiasm and confusion. I laughed at their antics, as deeply as I mourned their loss. Juliet was intelligent and logical, a perfect counter to Romeo’s irrational, spontaneous attitude. Their tragedy lied not only in the circumstance, but also in how incredible a match they were for one another.

I honestly can’t say enough about my night under the stars in front of these stars. Just see the show. Tonight.

Details

Tuesday – Sunday at 8pm until September 5th, Hugh Park Amphitheatre (

PWYC (suggested minimum donation $20 for adults and free for children 14 and under)