Sunday, June 21, 2015

Stratford vs. Shaw

Very recently I drove down to Niagara-on-the-Lake to see this season's production of Top Girls.  While the production was very good (with maybe one misstep in that the girl Angie just seems like a typical "prole" or "pleb" and not especially developmentally challenged) and I had a very good (2nd row) seat, I found myself really not enjoying the whole Shaw Festival experience.  I was really unhappy that there wasn't a transit option and no generic festival bus.  (Obviously I wasn't going to charter a bus for the weekend.)  It ended up costing me quite a bit to have to rent a ZipCar for the day, and traffic was pretty bad, though generally better coming back until I got to the outskirts of Toronto.

I really don't like Niagara-on-the-Lake -- a gross tourist trap with almost nothing but ice cream shops and bakeries.  Because of the extra traffic and missing an exit, I had very little time to eat before the play and I didn't see anywhere I could just grab a pre-made sandwich or anything fast and relatively cheap.  Only a few blocks out of the core, they don't even have sidewalks, and I can't abide that.  This is the first time that I've ever walked down to the main Festival Stage building, and I couldn't believe that they had this huge intersection as an unmarked 4-way stop.  In five minutes I saw two near-collisions.  Talk about horrible planning, sacrificing safety in the name of charm or maintaining on old-time feel.

In general, I don't like the plays the Shaw Festival selects relative to Stratford, particularly this season.  I will have to go back for the Kushner, and I suppose there may be something in the future I feel I have to see, but on the whole, I am going to be avoiding the Shaw.  It just isn't remotely what I want in a summer theatre festival.  In particular, I shouldn't come back feeling stressed about the driving to and fro.

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