Great News–Shakespeare in the Rough (Ruff) Is Back!

You may remember my elegy for Shakespeare in the Rough, the small, independent, underfunded company that put on a decade or so’s worth of brilliant minimalist performances in Toronto parks before disappearing in 2007. I’m delighted to have found and to announce here that under the slightly paronomasiac name of “Shakespeare in the Ruff,” they’re back! I wasn’t able to make their event the other night but I hope it was a big success, and I expect to be at some of their later events as well as their run in August. I do wonder about their decisions not only to do The Two Gentlemen of Verona but to change the ending. Yes—as I’ll say at length when we get to the play—the ending of Two Gentlemen is Shakespeare’s worst moment. Arguments that it’s ambiguous or ironic have far less plausibility than they do about the ending of The Taming of the Shrew (I don’t think they work there either, but that’s another story for another time). Nonetheless, I’m extremely skeptical that changing the ending is the solution. Think back to those eighteenth-century stagings of Lear in which Cordelia survives. Still, I’ll take this adventurous little company over the alternative for alfresco Shakespeare in Toronto, the summer-stock Dream in High Park series (which is doing its revolting Midsummer Night’s Dream for the third season in four). If anybody can make Two Gentlemen work, it’s Shakespeare in the Ruff. I’ll be following and reporting on them as the season unfolds. Don’t you want to know whether they use a real dog for Crab?

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