I’ve had a long term relationship with the Festival Theatre Ensemble, the company that performs Shakespeare under the stars each summer in two venues…Full Circle Farm and in Los Gatos. For five years, I had the privilege and great experience to act in two Shakespeare titled shows plus an additional classic title with this group. And now after a couple years absence, I returned to experience the season as an audience member.
Their repertoire normally consists of a comedy, a tragedy and one classic, non-Shakespeare titled play. Here’s what they are preforming this season:
Easily one of Shakepeare’s more recognizable comedies, this was my favorite of the season and definitely the most accessible for newcomers to Shakespeare…All thanks to a very lively cast with great chemistry and some great comedic direction by Rachel Bakker. The show is set in a Napoleonic era, an interesting creative direction.
Tragedies are harder to do because they just aren’t as fun as the comedies and most people don’t like to go to shows to get depressed. However, Caesar is one to see due to its historical interest and political intrigue. Again the cast does an excellent job bringing out the ‘grey’ aspects of the characters who are neither good or evil, just trying to do what is best for the Roman Empire, their country. But what makes the show stand out the most was director, Bruce W. De Les Dernier’s visual and audio style. The music is well chosen, and he visually set the play in a Mad Men post WWII era, trading in the togas and wreaths for suits and ties.
The Pirates of Port Royal is based on the Restoration comedy, “The Beaux Strategem” written by George Farquhar. The play is normally set in a small rural village and is about two con men, a dysfunctional wealthy family, a crooked innkeeper and his saucy daughter, and a bunch of rogue highway men. Director Bruce W. De Les Dernier adapted the script and changed it to pirates on an island off the coast of Jamaica. The first act is slow with lots of exposition and very little action. This has more to do with the restoration comedy style and not the direction. Act II picks up and delivers the fun pirate action, funny musical bits and an absolutely fantastic ending.
There are only a few weeks left to enjoy the outdoor Shakespeare experience…Festival Theatre Ensemble shows are always a great experience!
Images by Amy Goldsmith