Driftwood Theatre’s Bard’s Bus Tour touched down at Withrow Park yesterday evening in near perfect conditions for their lightly updated musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. D. Jeremy Smith’s production is cleverly constructed to cover off all the bases with a cast of only eight and with the minimal staging possible for an outdoor touring production. The updating makes the Mechanicals into Oshawa auto workers. The music is largely integral; parts of the text being set to music by Kevin Fox and Tom Lillington further adapted and performed by Alison Beckwith with support from various members of the cast. There are cuts and the whole piece runs about an hour and forty five minutes without an interval.
So the Toronto Summer Music Festival continued last night with a Shakespeare themed show called A Shakespeare Serenade. Curated and directed by Patrick Hansen of McGill it fell into two parts. Before the interval we got Shakespeare scenes acted out and then the equivalent scene from an operatic adaptation of the play. After the interval it was a mix of Sonnets and song settings in an overall staging that was perhaps riffing off The Decameron. Patrick Hansen and Michael Shannon alternated at the piano.
I really struggle with early Verdi. I want to like it. I want to like anything by the guy who wrote Don Carlo and Simon Boccanegra. Also, there’s so much of it about that avoiding it is tedious. But, and it’s a big but, I really struggle with the combination of deadly serious stage action and upbeat, bouncy music. There are all these arias that go something like :
We’re going to murder you,
Rum, tum, tum, tumpty tum.
We’re going to chop you up
Rum, tum, tum, tum.
Cognitive dissonance is killing me and that’s my thought for the day brought to you by Giuseppe Verdi, Francesco Plava and a very puzzled William Shakespeare.