Through August 22|
SHAKESPEARE & LOVE roving sites/Shakespeare in Delaware Park
What’s Shakespeare known for?
A lot of people who don’t know about the mysterious playwright from four centuries ago will say blood and gore.
That’s certainly true, particularly in his earliest known plays and in bloodbaths like full productions and death tolls of “Hamlet.”
There are also plays like “Henry V,” especially in some of the movie versions.
That’s a play where romance and death merge and diffuse.
The English king wants to merge two long-warring nations, partly by winning the wars with France, in battles like Agincourt but also by marrying the King of France’s daughter Catherine and he woos her hard.
Obviously, she realizes there is little alternative because that’s what royal women were for in the old days, brides of war and peace.
Still, the King Henry tries personally to woo and Shakespeare gets a chance to show he can do the romance also, perhaps as a message to Queen Elizabeth to ensure the royal succession with a husband and child.
The playwright never makes love easy, with the tangled wooing of Beatrice and Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing” or the doomed wooing of “Romeo & Juliet.”
Because Shakespeare in Delaware Park was squeezed by the ever-changing state of COVID rules, the traditional two plays on Shakespeare Hill were out of the question.
One effort this summer is close, at least geographically, that’s “A Midsummer Night’s Walk” in the nearby Marcy Woods, a much-shortened version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
That’s for next year.
The other production for this season covers about as much ground as Shakespeare’s theater companies did when the Plague hit London, "Shakespeare & Love".
Nightly performances ramble around much of Erie and Niagara Counties, with the night I saw it on a stage in a Lancaster town park surrounded by lawn chairs covering a particularly green swath of park land.
It’s a little more than an hour of love and romance from Shakespeare, with Kiana Duggan-Haas, Gabriella (Gabby) McKinley, Ricky Needham and Dan Urtz.
It will remind you of some concerts, with the lead vocalists coming forward for their numbers and then receding to the chairs along the side of the stage.
It’s an interesting slideshow of all the romantic stories Shakespeare told, on a lot of stages in a relatively short span of years.
It’s put together by the Godfather of SIDP, Saul Elkin, who probably knows more Shakespeare than most of the people who run theater companies in all of the places called Stratford, although only one has the playwright’s grave and tombstone.
You will recognize many of the lines from many of the shows.
It’s a little erratic, with the body language from my ten-year-old great-niece telling me when she was bored and when she was really into the lines and the words and the abbreviated versions of the story.
Overall, she liked it.
I think most in the audience did also.
It’s been decades since SIDP took a show on the road and this might make the company think about that option again since, almost certainly, there are people in the audience who would never think of heading down to Shakespeare Hill to see full-blown Bard.
They will be happy with abbreviated Bard in some local park and young people in the audience might well want to head off to Delaware Park next year to see the real thing in full blood.
Here, it’s love and romance and Shakespeare did that so well.
The cast for “Shakespeare & Love” isn’t bad either.
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