Vancouver’s annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival is on now until September 13th, 2013 with Hamlet and Twelfth Night in the 742-seat BMO Mainstage tent, and Elizabeth Rex and Measure For Measure on the studio stage at Vanier Park.
Hamlet is one of my favourite Shakespearean works so John and I made a date night out of our trip to event one sunny evening. Walking around the Seawall from the West End, we hopped a False Creek Ferry across English Bay to the Maritime Museum, passing stand-up paddle boarders, sailboats, kayakers and other traffic in this busy waterway. The sun started its descent as we walked from the ferry dock across the grass at Vanier Park and over to the main entrance of Bard on the Beach.
Bard’s version of Hamlet this year, directed by Kim Collier, is set in 2013 with everything from iPads to Bluetooth document sharing — and a good sword-fight.
Hamlet is the source of some of pop culture’s most famous Shakespeare references and phrases such as “To be, or not to be”; “This above all: to thine own self be true”; “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”; “In my mind’s eye”; “A little more than kin, and less than kind”; “Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?”; and many more.
Despite some ambient noise from the bay, floatplanes overhead reminding you that you were indeed still outdoors, I was sucked into the story thanks to the convincing portrayal of Jonathon Young as Hamlet. The character is tough to master and one must avoid going too over-the-top crazy, which I think Young pulled off splendidly and catapulted him to the top of my list of favourite Hamlets.
The rest of the cast was tight, with Barbara Pollard as Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, Bill Dow as his murdering uncle Claudius, and Jennifer Lines as his old friend Horatio (I like that Horatio was played by a woman).
Rachel Cairns plays Hamlet’s sweetheart Ophelia with Richard Newman as her interfering old father Polonius, and Todd Thomson as her brother Laertes.
Duncan Fraser is Hamlet’s father’s Ghost, The Player and the First Gravedigger, while Daniel Doheny, Andrew McNee, Robert Olguin and Allan Zinyk play numerous characters including other Players of the court. Naomi Wright (another role traditionally played by a man) and Craig Erickson are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
The set is posh and sleek, and the technical timing is spot on. To top it off, the BMO Mainstage tent has comfortable seats, with cup holders, and the refreshments are reasonably priced (compared to sporting events in town).
Bard on the Beach is Western Canada’s largest professional Shakespeare company. Performances run Tuesdays through Sundays with evening curtain at 8:00pm, except Sunday evenings and from September 4th onward, when curtain time is an hour earlier at 7pm. Matinees are presented on selected weekends and weekdays.
Ticket prices include all fees & taxes and are $43 (evenings) and $25 to $30 (previews, matinees and long weekend evenings) with a $25 Youth Rate (6-25 years, all performances). Prices for special events, groups and multi-play ticket package discounts can be found on the Bard website. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection (all seats are reserved) and because many performances sell out in advance.
Catching a show at award-winning Bard on the Beach is a truly Vancouver experience and I’d love to share it so we’re giving away a pair of tickets this summer. Here’s how you can enter to win:
- Leave a comment on this post with a Shakespearean quote (1 entry)
- Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Thursday, July 11, 2013. The winner will be able to select the Hamlet performance date of their choice until September 12th (based on availability, excludes Bard-B-Q fireworks nights).
Follow Bard on the Beach Facebook and Twitter for season updates and to learn about their special events.
Update The winner is @QuipsAndTips!