I've never (yet) made it to the famed Shakespeare in the Park; probably because I don't like waiting on lines (even online), hoping to get free tickets and possibly not succeeding. I avoid free concerts too, because the crowds are daunting. I love watching shows live, musical or theatre, but if I have to deal with a crush of people and sketchy ladies' facilities I'll likely opt out. My apartment has air conditioning and a perfectly functioning DVD player. I'm not dogmatic about any of this, of course, so when an opportunity arises that fits my comfort zone, I'm there.
Enter New York Classical Theatre's production of Much Ado About Nothing. One website refers to these productions as "Shakespeare on the Run," and I'd agree. Shows are held in various parks in the City, and the audience shows up and follows the cast through the park during scene changes. I went to one of these shows back in 2002, but we showed up late, so only got to see the ending of Macbeth. As I'm an expert procrastinator, it took eight years, but it finally happened. This time the show was in Battery Park, beginning at Castle Clinton.
There was a good-sized turnout for the show (and a gorgeous day out) but very little crowding. Despite there being kids, and one dog, everyone was attentive and though there was laughter there was no chaos. The actors dressed in 1940's costume, which as a fan of anachronism suited me just fine. The dialogue was incredibly easy to follow, and my attention never strayed, except for when I saw the dog's tail whipping Daphne in the face. It was professional but easy going, as I believe Shakespeare was meant to be. A Shakespeare play does not need a wealth of stage props, music or costume changes to be effective, though there was a bit of singing here and there. Plus you get your action, adventure, intrigue and romance just steps away from the Staten Island Ferry? What more can you ask for? Well, maybe a blanket to sit on. Didn't think that part through before showing up.
Admission is completely free, though donating is quite welcomed. The 'friar' yelled out "Alms for the poor" when it was over...how can one resist?
I'd never read Much Ado About Nothing before, but it was fun and witty, and now I want to dive into Shakespeare the way I did last year (though maybe not as heavy on the tragedies this time.
Sorry, no photography allowed, and you really don't want to see the video we made in the fountains afterwards. No, you don't.