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Bard’s side stage presents romantic comedy and moral drama

Bard’s side stage presents romantic comedy and moral drama

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival continues its 28th season with The Two Gentlemen of Verona, in repertoire with Merchant of Venice on on the Howard Family Stage, June 29 to September 17.

Directed by Scott Bellis, The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a lively tale of friendship, love and loyalty, with two very funny clowns and a loveable Basset hound that just might steal the show! Shakespeare’s comedy outlines some of the conflict that arises when friendship and romantic love get entangled, and the often foolish behaviour of the lovestruck. Best friends Valentine (Nadeem Phillip) and Proteus (Charlie Gallant) have an awkward problem – they’re both in love with Valentine’s girlfriend Sylvia. And it gets even trickier – Proteus already has a girlfriend of his own.

Set Designer Marshall McMahen has blended the beauty of the Romantic period with minimalist design elements to underscore the production’s themes. Bard Artistic Associate Mara Gottler dresses Verona’s landed gentry in comfortable and practical period garments, while dressing Milan’s aristocrats in more sophisticated yet severe outfits meant to conceal their true personalities.

Playing on alternate nights, Bard on the Beach’s provocative interpretation of The Merchant of Venice shines a spotlight on themes that are particularly relevant in 2017, including religious prejudice and discrimination and the use and abuse of power.

“The story is set in the present day to allow for an exploration of the contradictions we live with now, and to expose patriarchal colonialism as a most vicious circle we all share today,” explains Director Nigel Shawn Williams. “As always, the story also shows how our lack of understanding for the ‘other’, and our desire for power and currency, can subvert the most precious things we hold dear: love and family.”

Bard will hold a public forum on July 10, with an onstage panel that will consider the challenges and opportunities in staging The Merchant of Venice today. The discussion will be moderated by the Globe and Mail’s Western Arts Correspondent, Marsha Lederman.

This modern-day morality tale is told from an unadorned set, designed by Marshall McMahen, with monolithic stone towers that evoke a heartless world, driven by money. Taking his cue from current Italian fashion magazines, Costume Designer Drew Facey has created a collection of pared-down, expensive looks that reflect the characters’ preoccupation with wealth and prestige.

The full performance schedule, site information and play and special event details are on the Bard website at bardonthebeach.org. To book tickets, order online or call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559.

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