The ups and downs of outdoor theatre in Toronto in September.
As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies, telling the tale of heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court (in this case, aunt’s) to find safety, and eventually love, in the Forest of Arden. In the UC Follies version, Rosalind (Lauren Goodman) and her cousin Celia (Siobhan O’Malley) are “les filles des roi” in New France (part of which is now present-day Canada) being married to French Canadian dukes.
It is unfortunate when what could potentially be excellent performances are marred by the surroundings. The performance takes place in Hart House Circle, and the area distracted from the show. It was cold and the mosquitoes were out, and the beginning of a new school year at U of T added plenty of passers-by to the list of disturbances. That, combined with the noise of traffic and the generator powering the lights, was simply too much.
I unfortunately will have to admit that I left the show early, simply because it was too uncomfortable and distracting to be enjoyable. A smaller playing area that brings the audience much closer to the players would have alleviated many of the noise issues, allowing the audience to focus on the play itself.
That being said, from what I was able to hear, the performances were enjoyable. The show featured new original music by The Folk, and had largely been translated into French. Though this translation was about the only element from which I could discern the “New France” setting.
I found the design to be quite confusing. The costumes seemed anachronistic to the time period, as well as mismatched between male and female performers (the men were in simple dress shirts and pants, while the women dressed in corsets and large puffy skirts). I also thought the makeup on the women was quite strange, reminding me of kabuki masks, not New France.
The lone set piece, save for curtains, was a house. It not only seemed very out of place, but was also visibly made of cardboard and duct tape. I am all for saving money on set design, but not to the point that it’s obvious how fake the set pieces really are.
You only have one more chance to catch UC Follies’ As You Like It, and my suggestions are to dress warmly, bring some blankets, and sit as close to the front as you can. Perhaps you’ll have an easier time paying attention than I did, and thus enjoy the show more.
– As You Like It plays in the Hart House Circle, just south of Hart House itself (7 Hart House Circle) till September 15, 2012
– Showtimes are September 12-15 at 7:30pm
– Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.
– They can be purchased on-site, at UofTTix.ca or by phone: 416-978-8849