Ever since I heard King Lear's voice boom out of my English teacher's cassette tape player (Blow winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!) my senior year of high school, I have always enjoyed Shakespeare performances. Listening or watching skilled actors take command of the language and infuse it with meaning is always a treat.
If you love Shakespeare, views of the Hudson River, rose gardens, fountains, and picnicking with good friends on beautiful summer nights, make it a point to catch a performance or three at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival on the Boscobel estate in Garrison, NY.
This year, I saw all three performances.
Hamlet (Wall Street Journal review here) was a little slow going in the beginning, but I thought the second half was mesmerizing. The actor who played Hamlet really dug into the anguish and madness that sustained the title character throughout the play. I also thought that the actress who played Ophelia was incredibly talented.
Around the World in 80 Days, which was based on Mark Brown's adaptation of Jules Verne's novel, (NY Times review here) was absolutely hilarious. I don't think I've ever laughed that hard at a play before. The actors were perfectly cast and Jason O'Connell's comic antics were simply fantastic. He plays seventeen different characters and plays them all so well.
I just saw The Comedy of Errors (Times Herald-Record review here) this past week and had a blast. I was a little distracted in the beginning because I got ten mosquito bites on my feet in the first five minutes of the show (I ended up wrapped my new HVSF t-shirt around my ankles...thanks, JF!), but as the play went on, I loved every moment of it. I wasn't really familiar with the synopsis, but I thought that the director did a great job keeping the audience up to speed with all of the mistaken identities and plot twists. I thought the circus theme was very clever and lent to the story with its eye-catching costumes and original portrayals of each character. I was surprised at all the younger audience members there, but they seemed to have a great time. It got me thinking about how I would love to bring my kids to future performances...DN in maybe two or three years and LT and RT when they can sit in one spot for more than ten minutes (probably in seven or eight years).
There are only fifteen performances left, so if you have a free evening and you're in the NY area, be sure to pack your picnic basket with some fruit, pastries, and Prosecco, and head over to the festival (buy tickets here). It is a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Plus, you can buy Go-Go Pops at the concession tent. You definitely can't beat that.