I’m a huge Shakespeare in the Ruins fans and can still remember almost every play I’ve seen by the talented company. I’ve been going to their performances for years. I loved their presentation of The Tempest along the river, their Romeo and Juliet in a parking garage and their production of Amid Summer Night’s Dream in a downtown park. Last year’s Comedy of Errors was a complete delight. We took visitors from Hong Kong and they were so impressed.
I have to say that this year’s Antony and Cleopatra might be my least favorite of all their productions. For me having the characters wear First Nations costumes and setting the play in pre-confederation Canada just didn’t work. The story of how the indigenous people of Canada were robbed of sovereignty of their own land is of vital importance and needs to be told; but aligning that story with the story of Antony and Cleopatra seemed forced and contrived especially at the end of the play when a rather uncomfortable audience was asked to join in a circle dance.
Two years ago the SITR cast set their production of Henry V during World War I and that worked brilliantly. The alternate setting really enriched the theatre experience. For me that wasn’t the case with the alternate setting for Antony and Cleopatra.
And then of course there were the mosquitoes. They were out in full force Wednesday night and despite spraying repellent between scenes and waving the skeeters away with my program I still got some bites. I guess however a play asking us to transport ourselves to the Canadian prairies in the mid 1800s is much more authentic if it includes mosquitoes.