Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shakespeare only (Canadian Stage 2016-17)

I was tempted to title this post the increasing irrelevancy of Canadian Stage, but I felt that was just a bit too harsh.  After all, many people like this sort of spectacle, fusing dance and theatre and singing and what have you.  I generally do not.  I can enjoy it in small bits (basically Robert LePage) but the rest of the time, I want plays where the dialogue and plot are first and foremost.  The artistic director of Canadian Stage is not interested in that, so it is hardly surprising that I look over each season and find at most one play that I might be willing to see.  Here is the current brochure.  The LePage spectacle 887 is quite interesting, and I would encourage people to go, but I saw it during Panamania last year.

The only straight-forward play they are doing is Nick Payne's Constellations, and I read that already and thought it was completely dreadful.  The best way I can think of describing it is a sketch where they play a scene between a couple one way, then rewind it just slightly and play it another way, and then go off in a different direction.  Then you break and something about their relationship is fundamentally altered.  I imagine it was supposed to be a dramatic representation of quantum universes running in parallel (sort of what I imagined Possible Worlds would be), but the way it plays out (or at least reads on the page) is so tedious and the stakes are so low.  I don't know if I am being hypocritical in that I want to see Caryl Churchill's Love and Information where there is no meaningful plot either, just lots of snatches of dialogue and scenes that dissipate into the ether.  (I'm surprised that Canadian Stage isn't putting this on, as it seems right up their alley, but perhaps the season after this.)  All I know is that I read Constellations, and I hated it and have no interest in finding out if it does work better when actually mounted.

There isn't anything else in their regular season that is of any interest.  I do think The Public Servant sounds interesting, but this is more of a case where they are renting out their space to a different company.  I have no idea how they are doing with their sales and subscriptions, but my personal view is that I simply will never be that interested in the company until they turf the current AD for someone who is more mainstream.

However, I am generally interested in their summer offering: Shakespeare in High Park (despite the seating being so uncomfortable in the park).  This year they are doing Hamlet and All's Well That Ends Well.  I'll probably see Hamlet, despite having seen it twice last summer.  It's a bit more of a debate if I should take my son, but perhaps.  I don't think he would be all that interested in All's Well, and I'll plan on going by myself to that, even though it isn't a play that I love or even like all that much.  But I want to support Shakespeare in High Park (if not the rest of the Canadian Stage productions).  I was pretty sure I would manage to get around to seeing some Shakespeare in "Shakespeare 400," and it looks like I have 3 productions to see already, even before Driftwood announces whatever they are doing this year.  (I have a sinking feeling it will be Othello, but you never know.)

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