Shakespeare in the Park

Nothing could be more like summer in New York than going to see Shakespeare in the Park. The setting is fantastic. All seats are good. There is no roof except for the stars and sky. The stage is large which gives a certain freedom to the performance. You actually feel as if you had taken a journey back in time and were now peeking in on an event from the past. The way the stage flows into the audience creates that feeling.

First off, Shakespeare is tough, at least for me, to follow. Thankfully, the playbill actually describes the actual play in detail before you see it. Shakespeare always takes me awhile to catch on what is happening because the English is so hard to follow. I don’t always get the jokes either. Perhaps I am too pedestrian for Shakespeare.

Last night’s play was Much Ado About Nothing. A classic that has been performed a million times. It is very long. The seats are not actually like sitting in first class but a very tight coach so comfort is tough.

I have always been a fan of Jimmy Smits. He was by far the best actor on the stage. His presence lit up the stage and he was very much into character and had tremendous grasp of the language. He was funny too. Kristen Johnston, who played Smits love interest was not as comfortable as Smits on the stage and playing Shakespeare. She was good but perhaps a bit stiff. Sam Waterston, who I have seen before in other performances, was not at his finest last night. His daughter also played in this performance which was probably a wonderful experience for the both of them. Elisabeth Waterston who was ok not great. I’d like to be able to see her in other roles down the line. 2 other actors, Julio Monge and Lorenzo Pisoni, who I was not that familiar with, were far better than the more “famous” actors except for Jimmy Smits who again, was clearly the lead in terms of talent in this performance.

Was it great? It was ok. Way too long. Certainly stiff in some respects. Shakespeare’s English did not so easily flow off the tongues of any of the actor’s on stage but it was enjoyable. Walking into Central Park on a warm summer eve and stepping into an outdoor theater is half of the experience. So, I would say, how could you miss it when it only happens once a year.