by Lynn on August 2, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Memorial Park, Toronto, Ont. among others in Ontario.

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by D. Jeremy Smith
Production designer, Nancy Anne Perrin
Sound by Tim Lindsay
Lighting by Michael Brunet
Musical composer and direction by Tom Lillington
Cast: Shelly Antony
Christopher Darroch
Jordin Hall
Helen King
Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves
Fiona Sauder

Quick and easy Shakespeare in various parks in Ontario thanks to The Bard’s Bus Tour in their 23rd year.

The honourable Othello is turned into a jealous mad fellah by Iago, who is his supposed friend. Lots of innocent people are compromised, especially Othello and his innocent wife, Desdemona. It’s Shakespeare. It doesn’t end well for a lot of people.

I am grateful for the scrappy Driftwood Theatre Group and in particular Artisitc Director, D. Jeremy Smith, who brings the Bard on the Bus tour to various communities in Ontario, including Toronto. Artistic Director D. Jeremy Smith always presents an adapted version of the play with a particular slant to it. They are gritty, smart productions.

In this case Smith focuses on Cyprus and the Canadian Peace Keeping contingent there in 1974. Since part of Shakespeare’s play takes place in Cyprus Smith just expands on it. The costumes are those of the Peace Keepers. Othello is a leader of the group. The berets are the familiar powder blue, the uniforms are of the Canadian Forces and others (British, Irish).

The company is a mix of actors who are familiar with speaking Shakespeare’s words, those who are accomplished actors in other forms of theatre and those who are just starting out in their careers. I’m not so much interested in how well the words are spoken—I leave that to others, elsewhere. I am interested in the commitment, energy and focus of the company. For example Jordin Hall is a young actor playing Othello. One can admire his attempt. I’m particularly heartened to read that he has been accepted into the Birmingham Conservatory in Stratford, the teaching wing of the Stratford Festival. I always see the Birmingham Conservatory’s shows and look forward to more from Mr. Hall. Fiona Sauder brings confidence and maturity to Desdemona; I love that she’s not the blushing bride, but one with spunk. Christopher Darroch as Iago is the most accomplished with Shakespeare’s language. And he makes the most compelling villain.

D. Jeremy Smith has directed this 1 hour and 45 minute production to go like the wind. Scenes are directed efficiently. I think it inspired to have stage management change props and set pieces in the appropriate costumes (a soldier, a young woman in a dress) so as not to pull focus. Smith thinks of everything.

I saw this at Memorial Park (the production will travel to several more places before it ends, Aug. 13) and it attracted a large, attentive audience ready with food coolers, comfortable chairs and blankets. There were a few babes in arms who voiced their approval as well. I thought that was swell. Well worth a look.

There is also has a separate component of the evening called The Cyprus Project There are four or five stand-alone video screens for those interested to listen to four Cyprus stories that talk about what happened in Cyprus in 1974 from various points of view. It was fascinating.

Presented by The Driftwood Theatre Group

Tour ends Aug. 13, 2017. Check the website for the various play dates and places:

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