Friday, September 19, 2014
Sure, Shakespeare had his Globe Theatre to call home. But there's still something agreeably throwback about seeing Willy staged al fresco, by an itinerant troupe whose "backstage" is a couple of tents and whose dialogue sometimes competes with barking dogs and passing trains.
Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks is in its 10th season. This month, with five more free performances over two more weekends, it's putting on As You Like It, one of the Bard's best-loved comedies.
I caught it this past Saturday, with West Park standing in for the Forest of Arden. The cast, led by Andrew Miller as Orlando and Jennifer Tober as Rosalind, is youthful and energetic, and cleverly directed by Lisa Ann Goldsmith. (Tober is also PSIP's founder and artistic director.)
Last Saturday's show drew about 70 to the lawn outside the National Aviary, and the crowd skewed younger than most theater in town. Most patrons brought their own folding chairs, and some (as at the Globe) snacked during the show.
Best advice is to sit as close as you can: The ambient noise can make iambic pentameter a little hard to decipher.
Still, where else, in a comedy that ends in a quartet of weddings, would the show be briefly upstaged by a real wedding party from a nearby church filing past toward their photo shoot?
And if the bells from St. Peter’soccasionally stepped on the dialogue during this two-hour show, they were wonderfully welcome when, as if on cue, they began to ring just as the play's own closing wedding dance began.
This weekend, PSIP performs on Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park (up by Frew Street), at 2 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s show is preceded by a 1 p.m. performance by the youth troupe Falstaff’s Fellows, while on Sunday, storyteller Alan Irvine relates his own version of the play at 1:40 p.m.
On Sat., Sept. 27, there are two shows at Frick Park’s Blue Slide Playground, off Beechwood Boulevard near Nicholson, at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (Falstaff’s Fellows at 1 p.m.). And PSIP is back at Blue Slide at 2 p.m. Sun., Sept. 28, for the final show of the run (Falstaff’s Fellows at 1p.m.)
And while the shows are free, don’t be stingy when they pass the donation basket.
For more information, see www.pittsburghshakespeare.org.