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A thrilling and engaging take on a near-perfect play featuring absolutely breathtaking scenic design: the Hudson Valley.

Hoo-rah!

  • An outdoor theater experience unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. When I think ‘traditional Shakespeare’, yes I think outdoors and yes I think minimalist set design, but I also tend to think intimate (some would say cramped) quarters. This was quite the opposite. Where else can you have characters make their entrances from hundreds of feet away?? (besides the Park Avenue Armory of course)
  • I really loved the play! I’m glad that I had forgotten the arc of it since the last time I saw it at Syracuse (2007 I think?). The tragic then comic nature of the different acts counterpoint each other so well, and yet because it fits so well with the story there’s no sense of disconnect. After all, why would the people of Bohemia be sad (especially sixteen years later) just because the people of Sicilia are? And I have to admit, that whole ‘statue’ thing at the end? I genuinely didn’t catch on to what was happening until about thirty seconds before the reveal.
  • Generally very strong acting. A wonderful mix of comic and tragic performances, and the actors who were called upon to do both thoroughly pulled it off.
  • I followed the narrative far better than in some of Shakespeare’s other shows, and that’s just as much a function of the acting as the writing. I can always tell when someone performing Shakespeare has no idea what they’re saying.
  • I have to call out Mark Bedard as Autolycus as my favorite performance of the night. From his singing to his comic timing (verbal and physical) I quickly learned to be prepared for something enormously entertaining any time I saw him entering the stage.
  • Having almost no set design but doing a lot with the lighting worked wonders for providing a sense of changes in scene, focus, or tone. A particularly beautiful effect was had at the end of the show when everyone exits. The stage goes dark, the outside lights come up, and then we have a final moment with a departed character.
  • Music! Fantastically catchy music throughout the second act. Can’t praise it enough. Very much contributed to the decidedly more-lighthearted tone of the back half of the show.
  • Sometimes a show affects me on an even deeper level than I can consciously comprehend. When the show ended, I was weeping, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Blech…

  • More than once, potent lines that could have been played with a quiet power but simply shout-spoken, which always feels like the lazy way to handle Shakespeare’s more vitriolic lines.
  • Spoiler territory, though come on, this is Shakespeare: it seems like such a missed opportunity (acting and writing) to have the reunion of the King of Sicilia with his daughter happen offstage. My wife suggested maybe that’s to give the reunion between the king and his wife more potency, but hey, who says you can’t question the Bard’s choices here and there?
  • What the heck was Hermione doing for sixteen years?? Hiding up in the rafters of the church pulling a Tom Sawyer and watching her husband grieve every freakin’ day? Yikes.

Tales from before and after show:

I live here now! It’s amazing to think this theater, this glorious outdoor theater with one of the greatest views I’ve ever seen is only ten minutes away nestled in the beautiful Boscobel gardens. Methinks that we’ll be buying season tickets in the future. During the July 4th parade in Cold Spring, there were a bunch of preteen girls advertising The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and thus I assumed it was a pretty amateur endeavor. A couple weeks ago, I was very excited to hear my boss say he ventured all the way from the city to the show and that he loved it. As such, even if I didn’t live so close, it still would have been worth the trip.