Friday, July 17, 2015

Skakespeare as we like it: out in the parking lot

"Sir, you have wrestled well, and overthrown
more than your enemies."

Jane Bradley plays Rosalind in As You Like It.
(photo: Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation)

In its new home, outback of The Clemente, The Drilling Company's popular Shakespeare in the Parking Lot summer series brightly powers ahead with a Victorian steampunk As You Like It. This en plein air, in-the-round romantic comedy--with its multiple lovers and lasses--has tasty delights, chief among them detailed and zestful performances from Jane Bradley (Rosalind), Elaine Ivy Harris (Celia), Emmanuel Elpenord (Oliver) and Alessandro Colla (Touchstone). Of these, Bradley and Colla seem particularly resourceful--Colla remaining comically inventive and an unsinkable Bradley at sharp physical and vocal energy from start to finish.

Of course, this Lower East Side Forest of Arden has--for its adaptable players and equally adaptable audience--some unique features. Shakespeare's wit and Clancy's motley crew must compete with sirens and churning helicopters and Mr. Softee trucks, odd smells from takeout dinners and the occasional SUV driver scattering viewers as he attempts to back into the street.

Getting to the lot in a tardy fashion means you might have to peer around heads and bodies as you strain to follow the speaking actors. The rare, welcome cool breezes of a mid-July evening carry away the cast's less-robust voices. And if an actor turns the other way or speaks into his partner's neck....well, what did he just say?

But all of that is to be expected, part of the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot homemade fun. Quick costume changes behind a handy car. Simple strings of lights to relieve the dark when night settles in. Creatively shabby costuming and sometimes balky props that add to a feeling of intimacy, of something wonderfully weird and kind of sweet gifted to a neighborhood. And it's all free.

As You Like It runs through July 26 with performances at 8pm. Running time: Two hours. Bring your own chair, if you'd like. And--wonder of wonders!--Shakespeare in the Parking Lot now has its own Port-O-San!

Parking lot behind The Clemente
(The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center)
114 Norfolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington Streets), Manhattan

Other Shakespeare in the Parking Lot productions this season:

Macbeth, directed by Hamilton Clancy, at The Clemente parking lot, July 30-August 15

Romeo and Juliet at Bryant Park, directed by Dave Marantz, July 17-August 2

The Taming of the Shrew at The Clemente parking lot, directed by Alessandro Colla, September 4 to 20

Click here for complete information and schedules.

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