I’m not actually that big a fan of the outdoors. There’s no air-conditioning, bugs everywhere, and that giant ball of fire in the sky is constantly trying to cook you, or give you cancer, or whatever it does (ESPECIALLY in summertime! And you can’t even keep your eye on it, or it’ll blind you! Fuckin’ sun).
But every now and then, there comes along a reason good enough to lurk cautiously out of my Visitorium and into the harsh light of fresh air, and that now and then is now, friends, because it’s Theatre in the Park season here in O-town. Actually, it has been for a few weeks now, but as I’ve mentioned in the last few posts, I’m slacking off something awful these days. But I did my level best to cut that shit out last nite when I ventured into the wilds of Centrepointe Park, risking life and limb and a possible ant bite or two to check out A Company of Fools and their annual Torchlight Shakespeare show. Last year it was the dee-liteful MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, which I adored, so expectations were high and happy for this year’s entry, ANTONY & CLEOPATRA.
It looked solid as solid could be from the outside…Richard Gelinas and Catriona Leger starred as the titular lovestruck power couple, with the other roles being filled as need arose by Katie Bunting, Cari Lesli, Geoff McBride and Stewart Matthews. And once the show got underway, well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the fools don’t fool around with their Shakespeare (HAVE I said that before? Maybe not…not bad tho, eh?). Well, all right, they DO fool around with it, quite a bit actually. But that’s kind of the point of a Fools show, turning the potentially dry and stodgy Shakespearean productions of yore and making them something that literally the whole family can squeal with delight to. There were a pair of red-nosed little girls seated next to me on the grass during the performance who couldn’t have been more into it if they’d been on stage (which I’m sure they wanted to be).
The story itself, based on real events (much in the same way, no doubt, that your average episode of Xena is rooted in historical accuracy ), tells of the manliest of men, Marc Antony, who has abandoned his duties to make time with foxy Queen Cleopatra down Egypt-way, and who could blame him? Until he gets word summoning him back to Rome (dead wife, impending war and other pesky nonsense), where he has to marry Caeser’s sister to placate the Roman ruler, which irks Cleo to no end, ant then there’s that WAR, and then, well, things start to get complicated.
Gelinas does his usual smashing job as Antony, and is especially good at jibing with the audience during the performance. And Cat Leger goes from Beer Tent Goddess to just regular old Goddess (Cleopatra is pretty much close enough to a deity, in history’s babe-loving hindsight), vamping and camping it up with a wicked gleam in her eye all the while. The others, as said, switch between a variety of roles, but some fav’rits of mine are: Cari Lesli as the dread(-locked) pirate Pompey, rocking a toy xylophone like you only wish you could; Geoff McBride racing from one unlucky messenger to the next (and as a mush-mouthed Snake salesman); Stewart Matthews’ shrill Caesar, ever striving for the upper hand against Antony; and Katie Bunting as the perpetually sneering Agrippa, stalking around the stage like she’d love nothing better than to kick ALL our asses, just because they’re there.
It’s a fantastic and fun show, with all the attendant risks that come with performing an outdoor show with plenty of kids about (which is even MORE of the fun). Director David Whitely done good…love the inclusion of the ancient Roman Can-o-Phone into the proceedings. The show continues into August at a park near-ish you, with a pass-the-hat donation system footing the bill. It’s as good a time in a park as you’re gonna have, folks, so get going already. Unless you’re some kinda fool…the bad kind, not the good kind.
Peace, love and soul, Fools,
The Visitor (and Winston)