BWW Review: AS YOU LIKE IT is a Unique Shakespearean Experience!
In their highly successful 29th season, Bard on the Beach is breaking records this year with their production of Shakespeare's play: AS YOU LIKE IT. As one of Canada's largest non-profit Shakespeare festivals, attending a Bard on the Beach play is something that all Vancouverites need to experience at least once in their lifetime!
In Bard on the Beach's tented venue located in Vanier Park, there was a lot to see and do in addition to watching the play. Pre-show talks called "In A Nutshell" were given welcoming people to the venue and explaining the shows that were playing on the stages. The talks were extremely helpful for audience members as Shakespeare plays are sometimes difficult to understand. Before the play started, there was also a wrestling show that hyped up the audience for the show. With the food concessions and boutiques featuring Shakespeare-themed items, attending a Bard on the Beach show provides a great night out for people of all ages!
Bard's version of AS YOU LIKE IT stays true to the story and characters of William Shakespeare's play while adding modernized elements to their production. Following the story of Rosalind, a young woman forced to leave home by her uncle, and Orlando, a young man escaping his brother determined to kill him, AS YOU LIKE IT centres around their new lives away from home followed by all the misunderstandings and mishaps that ensue them during this time.
Instead of taking place in France and the Forest of Arden, Bard's production takes place in 1960s Vancouver and the Okanagan. In addition, the play features wrestling matches emphasizing the modern elements director Daryl Cloran added to the play. The most interesting component of AS YOU LIKE IT added were the 25 songs by The Beatles that were performed throughout the play. From "Love Me Do" to "All You Need Is Love" the evolution of the music of The Beatles connected perfectly with the progression of the stories of each character. For audience members who were less familiar with Shakespeare, the songs of The Beatles provided moments of familiarity and helped with the understanding of the intricate plot of the play.
The set for the show designed by Pam Johnson featured a wrestling ring on a wooden stage, which transitioned into BC's Okanagan forest paired with psychedelic elements such as a flowered covered van representing Vancouver in the 1960s as the show progressed. A balcony standing above the stage allowed for a smooth transition between scenes and effectively used the small theatre space. Carmen Alatorre's costumes were perfectly paired with the psychedelic songs of The Beatles. The bright colours and funky patterned shirts and pants sported by each character were symbolic of the 1960s.
Lead actor Nadeem Philip who played Orlando De Boys gave a notable performance in the show. Philip's smooth voice was perfect for the musical numbers and his swift movements during the wrestling match moments of the play brought energy to the production. Along with his compelling stage presence and passionate connections with other cast members, Nadeem Philip's performance was truly remarkable.
AS YOU LIKE IT was a great production by Bard on the Beach that is suitable for people who are both familiar and unfamiliar with the works of William Shakespeare. The modernized elements such as the incorporation of music into the play makes the show more appealing to a larger demographic of people.
AS YOU LIKE IT is currently playing at the Bard on the Beach venue in Vanier Park at the BMO Mainstage in Vancouver until September 28th as the show extended its run due to its immense popularity during Bard's record-breaking season. Tickets are available at bardonthebeach.org or by calling the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559.
Photo Credit: David Cooper