It truly was a Dream in High Park for the opening of Canadian Stage’s As You Like It. Directed by Anand Rajaram, this visually stunning production is infused with all of the whimsy and magic befitting Shakespeare’s famed forest. This is certainly a production the whole family will love and you simply must experience it in such a perfect venue.
Immediately upon arrival I was floored by how beautiful the design is for this production. The set, props, and costumes were all designed by Shadowland Theatre and they gave a fairy-like quality to the entire production. Colourful flowers and creatures adorn the stage and are brought to life by the exceptionally talented cast. You truly believe that anything can happen in such an enchanted setting. Add that to the fact that you’re nestled in amongst a real forest, watching the sun set as the play goes on, and the treetops get lit up once it’s dark, it all creates the perfect ambiance for this play.
The cast of As You Like It is just as magical and spectacular as the setting. Watching them change from one character to the next at the drop of a hat (or petal really) was so much fun. Some of the accents and characterizations, like Charles the wrestler, had us all in stiches! And the differences in the Dukes (played by Ken Hall) were hysterical; every time Duke Ferdinand came on stage, we all giggled. I simply must give special mention to Maja Ardal: her delivery of the “all the world’s a stage” speech struck me in a way it has never done before. She brought such humanity and gravitas to those iconic words; it certainly deserved the spontaneous applause it received. Belinda Corpuz composed beautiful melodies to accompany Shakespeare’s lyrics and having her perform them live on stage was wonderful. Bren Eastcott and Paolo Santalucia had amazing chemistry as Rosalind and Orlando, their verbal jousting was fantastic.
If I had to describe As You Like It in one word, it would be delightful. I couldn’t stop smiling from start to finish, and I truly believe that an open-air theatre is the best way to see this play. With Shakespearean fun for the whole family, grab a blanket, and a picnic, and head down to Dream in High Park! As You Like It runs until September 4th. For more information and tickets visit: As You Like It / Canadian Stage
Photo by Dahlia Katz