Niagara-on-the-Lake enchants. The food and wine enchant. The architecture enchants with its "Old World" charm. And, especialy so, Matthew Barber's "Enchanted April" effortlessly enchants and transported me to another time and place. The "place" being an intimate castle on the Mediterranean in Northern Italy.
The only thing lacking for me in Barber's Shaw Festival production of Enchanted April directed by Jackie Maxwell was the soft sound of the sea in the stage background; otherwise, the sets were a delight and whimsical to say the very least. The play worked on all levels, and had there not been a "no cell 'phone" caution for the audience, I would have speed dialed my travel agent to get me on the first flight to Italy.
If you're shy about seeing a man's full frontal and cute bum...well, steer clear from Enchanted April. The afternoon I saw the play, the packed house didn’t seem to mind a handsome man in the buff: hoots and howls of laughter were almost deafening.
Set changes to reflect a London, England pub, apartment, church, train station, and a romantic castle on the Mediterranean in Northern Italy are remarkably creative. Barber's dialogue grabbed me by the throat soon into the production. Who hasn't thought of picking up and heading off to another land--even if for only a month, whether 18 or 80.
Enchanted April is a wonderful "get-away-from-your-troubles" sort of performance; it's the sort of production that after watching it you'll feel like you've actually set foot in Italy and spent the afternoon with colourful characters and later enjoying a rustic Italian meal. Jackie Maxwell is behind Enchanted April's artistic direction and into her eleventh season as Artistic Director at The Shaw.
Born and educated in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jackie Maxwell has artfully endowed many theatres and universities as well as the Banff Centre for the Arts, and Montreal's National Theatre School with her artistic direction. Ms. Maxwell was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for significant achievement and dedicated service to her peers, to her community and to Canada.
Shaw Festival: Enchanted April at the Festival Theatre, June 25 to October 26, 2013. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
I travelled on GO transit (train) Toronto's Union Station to St. Catherines where a GO shuttle bus was waiting for transport directly into Niagara-on-the-Lake and just a few minutes' walk to any of the Shaw Festival's theatre venues. You'll have a few hours before and after the play to stroll the pretty town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
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