They did it again.
In previous years, the Shawnigan Players have proved that, despite all the noise and bustle of acting on the grass at Charles Hoey Park in downtown Duncan, Shakespeare is alive and well in the Cowichan Valley.
They were back for their annual preview performance at The 39 Days of July on July 29, presenting Macbeth, one of the two plays they are presenting this summer at Gem o’ the Isle Farm.
Leaping between chairs and over railway tracks, behind bushes and through the crowd, the actors kept their focus — and the focus of the crowd — on the story. No simple task, with no microphones and all kinds of noise, but the gripping and bloody tale held everyone spellbound.
Sarah Lane, in the iconic role of Lady Macbeth, showed that she can do far more than kick up her heels in a blockbuster musical.
Graceful and sweet faced, she was nevertheless downright evil, holding her wavering husband to the wicked plan of murdering their king, and then, when he loses his nerve at a crucial time, wading in and completing the bloody job herself.
There are lots of familiar faces to enjoy in this production; make sure to get out to the Gem ’o’ the Isle to see the entire show.
For the Shawnigan Players, it’s the sixth year at the Gem o’ the Isle Farm, and they do indeed have two plays on offer — a remount of 2016’s, hit A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and, for the first time in Players’ history, Macbeth.
According to Players’ member, Laura Faulkner, “the tragedy of Macbeth tells the story of a noble warrior and his spirited wife whose desire for power, intensified by a supernatural prophecy, leads to obsession, madness, and chaos. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a light-hearted comedy about the madness and chaos of love, pokes fun at the obsessions of lovers both mortal and supernatural. While the Macbeths’ ambitious misdeeds condemn them to the bleak curse of sleeplessness, the fairies, lovers, and rustics of Midsummer tumble in and out of sleep and so haphazardly that a sense of dreamlike enchantment endures long after all spells are lifted.”
Both plays are directed by Alex Gallacher, whose past directorial credits at the Gem include As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and Pride and Prejudice.
The Shawnigan Players’ summer productions at the farm have quickly become a Valley tradition, with audiences returning annually and growing in number every year, according to Faulkner.
Tiered seating is available for an amphitheater feel, and audience members are also welcome to bring blankets and sit on the grass. Family members of all ages are encouraged to attend and special family-rate tickets are available.
The Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival runs Aug. 2-13 at Gem o’ the Isle Farm, 2465 Koksilah Rd.
Macbeth will be performed Aug. 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, and 12 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee Aug. 13 at 2 p.m.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed Aug. 4, 8, and 10 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee Aug. 6 at 2.
Advance single tickets are $20 for a single show or $30 for a two-show festival pass. Advance family tickets (one or two adults plus children, maximum five people) are $40 in advance for one show or $60 for a festival pass.
Prices at the gate are slightly higher (singles $25/festival $40/family $60/family festival $80.) Advance tickets are available at Ten Old Books, Mason’s Store, or online at cowichanshakespeare.eventbrite.ca.
You can also reserve tickets by emailing email@example.com.