Bard on the Beach
As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Dates and Venue June 12 – September 22 | BMO Mainstage, Vanier Park

Director Daryl Cloran Set Design Pam Johnson Musical Director Ben Elliott Lighting Designer Gerald King Costume Designer Carmen Alatorre

Reviewer Melanie Ewan

As I walked away from the white tents and iron gates of Bard on the Beach, humming to myself with a skip in my step, I couldn’t help but smile. Whether it was the iconic characters, the psychedelic soundtrack, or the cast and crew themselves, the Bard’s adaptation of As You Like It strikes an unlikely yet perfect balance between Shakespearean prose and 1960’s counterculture.

I arrived at the show 15 minute before curtain, as suggested for this particular show, and walked into the BMO Mainstage turned all-star wrestling match. The stage itself had been turned into a ring, with reining champ – and incredibly athletic - Charles the Wrestler brawling his way through a mess of challengers. Suffice it to say, the environment was electric, with audience member and cast whooping, hollering, and even singing (yes, singing) on cue!

This unexpected introduction is brilliant in that it quickly introduces you to a few of the main characters, while keeping the audience entertained and on their toes. The pre-show transitions seamlessly into the first scene, starring none other than the much beloved and gender-bending Rosalind (Lindsey Angeli), and her starry-eyed lover Orlando de Boys (Nadeem Phillip). This first encounter between Rosalind and Orlando is outstanding in all of its action packed, love-struck glory, setting the tone for the remainder of this magnetic musical production.

Did I not mention this is a musical?

As You Like It — Bard on the Beach style — features an all-Beatles score that is sure to slap a goofy and enduring smile on your face. The cast and crew pull off this eclectic feat of music, prose, and pop culture reference with impressive precision, a testament to their breadth of talent. Special shout out is owed to the band, bringing to life 25 of The Beatles biggest hits, including ‘Let it Be’, “Yellow Submarine”, “As My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and even “I am a Walrus” (much to the crowd’s delight).

From the outset, I was impressed by the physicality and reactions of Phillip, who is both lovable and relatable in his portrayal of Orlando. Meanwhile, Harveen Sandhu is brilliant as doting and charismatic cousin Celia; her presence and vocals—though awarded too little stage time—are easily some of the best of the production. And who could forget Kayvon Khoshkam, in the iconic role of Touchstone the Jester. Khoshkam brings both satirical wit and bawdy humour to the stage, taking aim at all those who cross his path, including Shakespeare himself.
The costumes are on point for the era, with bell bottoms, bright colours, and stripes all around, and the sets themselves are well designed and appropriate for the stage.

On a normal day, As You Like It is unapologetically ridiculous, it’s true. It’s got love. It’s got violence. It’s even got a miraculous change of heart or two. But, have you ever seen this iconic comedy involve a shaggin’ wagon and lovelorn hippies? Now’s your chance! Tickets are going fast for this one, so head on down to Vanier Park and let the Bard transport you back in time to the swinging ‘60’s.

© 2018 Melanie Ewan