As a rule, I don’t like modern off-the-wall interpretations of Shakespeare. I don’t profess to know the man, but I really don’t think William would have liked people messing about with his iambic pentameter and using modern urban slang.
Which is why I am remarkably surprised to find myself getting up early today in order to hurriedly write this post telling you all about the open air theatre at Vyšehrad. The Prague Shakespeare Festival’s performance included a number of things that normally turn me right off contemporary Shakespeare productions – random accents, people acting as sheep, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and a take on Abba’s Fernando (‘Orlando’ – nice).
But, and this is a major change of heart from me, it just worked so incredibly well. This production was SO innovative, SO slick, SO well produced and fantastically well acted. I want to find new superlatives just so I can gush about it all day long. It wasn’t so much a modern spin as just fresh and inventive. So many new ideas, without losing anything from the original.
This production was directed by Guy Roberts and includes a cast of European and US (mainly Texan, hence the accents) actors. Rosalind/Ganymede deserves a special mention for being incredibly well-played by Jessica Boon who can not only act but is also very pretty and has a stonking voice as well. Laura Baranik’s Phebe and Lenka Fisherova’s Audrey were also particularly entertaining. The whole cast really were excellent. They all remain on stage throughout the whole play. They seemed so comfortable and at ease with each other (even though I’m pretty sure there was a little off-piste improvisation at times) that it was hard to believe this was the opening night. The same gang are also doing King Lear and I will queue all night to get tickets if I have to.
The location is just perfect as well. Letni Scena at Vyšehrad offers one of the best views over Prague and in early evening it is particularly attractive. Give yourself time to get there though – it’s a bit of a walk from the tram (Vyton) and a proper (although well signposted) hike from the Metro. Take a jumper – you’ll be cold by the end, although all the laughing and clapping will probably warm you up.
I cannot possibly do this production justice. Just do yourselves a favour and go and see it – PSF are there until 29 May. All the information is available here, and Will Noble at the Prague Post gives a great insight to both productions here.