Monday, August 23, 2010

A year to remember at Stratford

I'm back from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, which is enjoying its strongest season in years. The six productions I caught were all good to very good, although it was Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (above), and a splendidly-produced Peter Pan that brushed greatness rather than the widely-touted Christopher Plummer Tempest (its most stunning image - Ariel retrieving Prospero's book from the depths of the sea - at left). What was clear from the eight productions my party saw was that new artistic director Des McAnuff was, indeed, the right choice to head the festival; to be honest, I can't remember Stratford ever being quite this consistent (but then we missed its apparent high point - a new play by Michel Tremblay - as well as its two bombs, King of Thieves and Two Gentlemen of Verona). Even the productions which I disagreed with (like McAnuff's As You Like It, at top) left me thinking seriously about their texts; more to follow later this week.