Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stratford - Where I've Been for the Last Couple of Days

Say what you will about their love of gravy and socialized medicine and wildlife, those Canadians know how to put on a play. At least, at Stratford they do.

This past weekend, the girlfriend and I took a nice long weekend trip up to Ontario to take in a couple of the shows playing now at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

We saw three shows: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Julius Caesar by the old brit himself, and Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.

Allow me a moment of drama nerdery. Please pause while I push my glasses up my nose, clear my throat and put on the nerd cap. Okay, here we go:

I find it interesting looking at the scope of setting and action for these three plays. Julius Caesar is the oldest of the plays, and the action of the play ranges from private homes to public squares in Rome, and finally ends up on a battle field over the course of many years. It’s a big damn play. Earnest is the second oldest of the two and takes place in only three locations, two of which are homes, over the course of a couple of days. Cyrano, which while set in 1640 was actually written in after Earnest, takes place in several locations in Paris, then another battle field and then in a convent fifteen years later.

I just think it’s kind of cool to look at how tastes seem to flow back and forth between ‘big’ plots and ‘little’ plot. It’s a contrast that, in my mind, ranks up there with the serious vs. comedic and the instruction vs. entertainment debates.

And the nerd cap comes off.

While they were all great, my favorite show was by far Cyrano de Bergerac. I just loved the wide range of the show, the fact that there was an entire battle on stage, and just the quality of the performances were great. The actor who played Cyrano, Colm Feore, was phenomenal. There really are no other words for it.

All around, great times were had. Usually I reserve some space to gripe but, apart from the general bullshit of traffic, I really don't have anything to gripe about. It’s hard to recommend a show that’s 428 miles from Chicago but, if you’re willing to brave the vast distance and the Canadian gravy-laden wilderness, then go, I say, and enjoy.

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