Oh the joy of seeing live theatre again after so long. It was a truly a gift to be at the opening of the Crow’s Theatre production of As You Like It, a radical retelling by Cliff Cardinal. I have seen a few remarkable online performances during the pandemic but nothing virtual can compare with being part of a live audience, of feeling the energy of the performers and the rest of the audience. Absolute bliss!
Admittedly I was fairly anxious before I went, to the point of considering not going. I gave myself permission to leave if I felt panicked during the evening and that eased my anxiety. Crow’s Theatre’s policy that all patrons have to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times on the premises also helped to calm me down. It was worth it to experience Cliff Cardinal’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s As you Like It.
I haven’t seen As You Like It in decades but I remember it as what I thought of as silly comedy so I was excited to see what Cardinal would do with it. He didn’t disappoint.
Cardinal is known for his “black humour and compassionate poeticism” – I put this in quotes because almost everything I read online said the same thing, with no attribution. So, no attribution from me either, sorry, but at least I used quotation marks. His radical retelling is written in everyday colloquial language, f-bombs and all. It’s darkly funny, and heartbreaking. Definitely not your grandparent’s Shakespeare.
The first five themes in As You Like it – of the eight listed in Wikipedia, are love, gender, usurpation and injustice, forgiveness, and court life and country life. Cardinal’s version is viewed through an Indigenous lens and fits the context perfectly.
Cardinal makes explicit the things that are ignored in Shakespeare’s version. He uses Canadian examples showing his audience a truer meaning of the themes and making us confront the reality behind the comedy while still keeping us laughing.
It’s an excellent interpretation and wonderful theatre. Maybe a bit difficult to sit with at times but that’s part of what makes theatre amazing. As You like It, a radical retelling by Cliff Cardinal, is fabulous. You should see it. You’ll be surprised and delighted, and it will make you think.
- As You Like It is playing until October 17, 2021 at Streetcar Crowsnest (345 Carlaw Ave.)
- Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00pm with matinees at 2:00pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
- Ticket prices range from 56.50 to 67.80 with a discount for seniors.
- Tickets are available online and by phone at (647) 341-7390 ext. 1010
Patrons need to show proof of vaccination and complete a health screening prior to entering the theatre.
Photo of Cliff Cardinal by Dahlia Katz