The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0739.  Monday, 7 July 1997.

From:           David Evett <R0870%This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 6 July 1997 1:27pm ET
Subject:        Stratford, Ont. Season

A brief report on this year's work at the Stratford Festival.  The
Festival Theater has been renovated.  Inside the house the work is
welcome-new and extremely comfortable seats with increased leg-room.
Women in particular will applaud much enhanced restrooms.  But the decor
of the reconstructed lobby area would suit a suburban office building
better than one of the world's great theaters. The season is one of the
best in years, I think.  I urge everybody who can get there to see the
electrifying *Coriolanus* directed by Richard Rose, which kept me and
the rest of the audience on the edge of our seats from beginning to
end.  Tom McCamus, slim and quick as a cavalry saber, tears into
Volscians and plebeians with the same wolfish pleasure, and the scene
with Martha Henry as a superbly elegant Volumnia is worth the trip all
by itself. Rose also directs a witty, warm *Shrew,* set in the Little
Italy of New Padua (New York, that is) around 1960; everybody has a
slight Italian accent and a hot temper. In such a setting, patriarchal
machismo goes without saying, and the decision to cast Peter Donaldson,
a capable comic actor without a lot of presence, as Petruchio, makes it
relatively easy for Lucy Peacock's Katherina to hang onto her sense of
self-worth.  John Wood directs Steven Ouimette as Richard III striving
to humanize the warped usurper; the text won't support the enterprise,
but it's interesting, and the women are all terrific.  A
straightforward, heavily cut *Romeo and Juliet* is the weakest of this
year's Shakespeares.  Henry pairs with Al Waxman as Willy in a
production of *Death of a Salesman* that gripped and moved me as no
others I have seen; we wondered if Canadian distance from the Great
American Tragedy freed them from the reverential treatment of play and
protagonist that so often muffles the play's anger and flair.  And
there's wonderful pace and ensemble playing in a deeply moving revival
of *Juno and the Paycock.*  On a more popular note that anygood musical
*Camelot* gets a very good production; emphasis on character and music
over dancing makes it more suitable for the Festival Theatre thrust than
most of the things they've tried there.  The Old Prune remains our
favorite place to eat in this part of the world, and the swans still
cruise the lake.  Get there if you can.

Dave Evett

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