This year once again, we went on our annual “pilgrimage” to Stratford, Ontario. We firmly believe that Stratford offers the best English-language theater outside London, U.K. Over our four-night stay we saw seven outstanding shows:
- The Adventures of Pericles. This play was only half-written by Shakespeare, and with its mixture of an epic hero, evil princess, good princess, sex slavery, sea storms, pirates etc, is very difficult to stage. However, Stratford as usual, produced a wonderful show, both moving and full of fun.
- The Last Wife. Written by an actress-playwright Kate Henning, this play focuses on the last surviving wife of Henry the VIII. It is witty, intelligent, compassionate and powerful.
- Love’s Labors’ Lost. I think that this year, Stratford pleased the audience with one of the most delightful and elegant productions of this Shakespearian comedy. Nothing “labored” in this show beautifully staged by the U.K. director, and there is so much love in it that nothing is lost!
- Physicists. This play by Fredrich Durrenmatt is as disturbing as it is funny. You leave the theater laughing and, at the same time, with a conviction that human race is most surely doomed by its own cruelty and greed for power.
- Hamlet. This was definitely one of the best Hamlets we have seen over the thirty years of theater-going.
- Oedipus Rex. This was perhaps the only show we had a problem with. While appreciating artistic risks any director is taking when trying to bring Sophocles play into the 21st century, we thought that this staging was too hectic and devoid of the play’s deep meaning. In addition, the translation was in prose, and the great poetry was lost.
- The Alchemist. This 17th-century comedy by Ben Johnson may not be your idea of fun reading, but in Stratford, it has become a hilarious show led by terrific actors.
I wish we had time and money to see the entire 2015 repertoire.
Next season promises to be one of the most exciting we have ever encountered in this theater-lovers’ paradise. If you have not been to Stratford yet, consider making your first visit in summer of 2016!