Review: Shakespeare: If Music Be (The Art of Time Ensemble)

By Crystal Wood

Shakespeare: If Music Be, presented by The Art of Time Ensemble at the Enwave Theatre, is the perfect kind of entertainment for a cold winter night.  It’s chock full of a variety of satisfying pieces that have you leaving the theatre feeling warm and full.

The Art of Time Ensemble is a Toronto company that produces shows that are a veritable orgy of performing arts, from music to movement, theatre and song.  It taps into the talents of established Canadian artists, from Rufus Wainwright to James Kudelka, presenting shows focused on a particular person or theme.

December’s offering was an ode to the works of William Shakespeare.  The two-hour show contained numerous short pieces grouped into larger segments, touching on the plays Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo & Juliet, as well a section that I’ll call “Reflections on Shakespeare.”

I quite enjoyed the “Reflections” segment.  In it, four actors (Cara Ricketts, Lucy Peacock, Marc Bendavid and Tim Campbell) present observations about Shakespeare that have been recorded by such writers as Virginia Woolf, Herman Melville and Jorge Luis Borges.  It was interesting to hear how some well-known writers view the most well-known writer of all.

Other standouts for me were the Romeo & Juliet before parting dance piece performed by Tanya Howard and Patrick Lavoie of the National Ballet of Canada, as well as Cara Rickett’s soliloquy of Ophelia’s descent into madness.  In fact, I enjoyed the monologue so much that I almost thought the Peggy Baker dance piece following it paled a little, although it was certainly a strong piece on its own.

I decided to take my friend Jenn to see this show.  Jenn’s an actor and someone who loves the Bard as much as I do.  I think her impression of the show can be described by her “Oh, my God! Thank you!” afterward.  But she also mentioned that she enjoyed the scenes between Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (played by Peacock and Campbell) as well as Rickett’s Ophelia scene.

In short, the entertainment in Shakespeare: If Music Be was uniformly strong.  To show how diverse the programs of The Art of Time Ensemble are, this Shakespeare piece is being followed in the spring with a tribute to the waltz, and a War of the Worlds concert.  Truly, there’s something for everyone!


– Shakespeare: If Music Be runs from Dec 9-11, 2010.  The company is presenting three shows in February, March and May, and concert packages are available.

– Tickets are $25 to $59, with multi-show packages as low as $66.

– Shows are performed at the Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West, Toronto.

– For more information or to purchase tickets, call 416-880-7693 or visit

Photo of Peggy Baker and Andrew Burashko, by John Lauener.

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