Who knew? The surf is up at Bower Ponds

Viola washes up on the beach to the electric strains of Wipe Out in Bard on Bower’s banzai version of Twelfth Night. Prime Stock Theatre’s rad rendering of Shakespeare’s comedy opened on Thursday on the outdoor stage at Bower Ponds. It comes complete with board shorts, bathing suits, beach umbrellas — and breezy Beach Boys and Surfaris tunes performed by talented local band Underside Pattern.

Viola washes up on the beach to the electric strains of Wipe Out in Bard on Bower’s banzai version of Twelfth Night.

Prime Stock Theatre’s rad rendering of Shakespeare’s comedy opened on Thursday on the outdoor stage at Bower Ponds. It comes complete with board shorts, bathing suits, beach umbrellas — and breezy Beach Boys and Surfaris tunes performed by talented local band Underside Pattern.

With colourful surfboards lining the stage, the setting has clearly moved from Illyria on the Adriatic coast to the Pacific shores of Southern California.

The Duke Orsino, played by Isiah Williams, has become the equivalent of MoonDoggie, the surfer hero of those early 1960s Gidget movies. He rushes for the waves whenever he hears “Surf’s up!” despite his lovelorn status. For when he isn’t riding the swells, Orsino is pining for unattainable rich girl Olivia.

Played with a haughty air by Danielle LaRose, Olivia is supposedly mourning the death of her brother behind a giant pair of sunglasses and fashionable wide-brimmed hat. But it’s pretty obvious she just isn’t into dating surfers — at least not surfer boy Orsino.

When a shipwrecked Viola (Erin Pettifor) arrives on the beach scene, she becomes a gender-bending Gidget. Renaming herself Cesario, she dresses as a male to accept employment from the Duke. But Viola quickly falls for Orsino, even thought she’s hired to woo Olivia on his behalf.

Things get more convoluted when Olivia inexplicably falls for Cesario (aka Viola). But it adds to the fun in this entertaining production that Pettifor, who bears a striking resemblance to a young Lucille Ball, makes absolutely no attempt to seem remotely masculine as Cesario.

The stately Olivia is throwing herself at a pale girly man dressed in wide shorts, a check shirt and poor-boy cap.

One possible reason Twelfth Night, from 1601, has stayed popular is because it contains more than its share of clowns and buffoons.

In this production, under the tongue-in-cheek direction of Thomas Usher, the priggish Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Brock Beal) uses a dinghy paddle instead of sword to ‘battle’ first Cesario, and then Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian (JP Lord).

Sir Toby Belch (Tom Bradshaw) slurs his way through scenes after imbibing too much beach-side ale, while Malvolio (Richie Jackson) is put into a straitjacket after falling for a practical joke orchestrated by Oliva’s gentlewoman Maria (Robyn Jeffrey).

In one of the funniest bits, Olivia’s jester Feste (Sarah Spicer) dresses as an evangelical preacher and speaks Shakespeare’s dialogue like someone from the Ozarks.

While it would have been nice to hear vestiges of California surfer-speak mingled into some of the other Elizabethan dialogue, that’s probably asking for too much of the cast!

While a few kinks still needed ironing out at the run-though rehearsal I attended, the actors did a great job of reinventing this classic comedy and getting the thrust of the plot line across in speeches.

The music is one of the show’s biggest assets. Underside Pattern (which performed Beatles songs at last summer’s Bard on Bower) does justice to such tunes as Surfin’ USA, Barbara Ann, California Girls and God Only Knows — which is the best soundtrack ever for a happy ending.

This easy, breezy, surfer version of Twelfth Night is about as summery as Shakespeare gets.

Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Bring a lawnchair, blanket, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Twelfth Night will alternate performances with Bard on Bower’s King Lear, which opens on Thursday, July 23.

Twelfth Night runs at 7 p.m. on July 17, 18, 22, 26 and 30 (also at 2 p.m. on July 25 and Aug. 1).

King Lear will be staged at 7 p.m. July 23, 24, 25, 29, 31 and Aug. 1 (also at 2 p.m. on July 26 and Aug. 2).

For the first time, a beer tent will be available at the outdoor site. As well, special performances will be held by Bull Skit and Tree House Youth Theatre on July 25 and Aug. 1.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Two people die in Highway 11 crash

RCMP continue to investigate

Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane says Canadian economy resilient

OTTAWA — The Canadian economy remains resilient despite the global uncertainty caused… Continue reading

The Second Cup agrees to buy Ottawa chain Bridgehead Coffee for $9.5 million

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The Second Cup Ltd. says it has agreed to… Continue reading

Telus to buy German call centre firm Competence Call Center for $1.3 billion

VANCOUVER — Telus Corp. is buying a German call centre company through… Continue reading

High court to decide if it will hear Alberta man’s appeal in seniors slayings

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada is to release a decision… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Central Alberta Council on Aging will hold its Christmas General… Continue reading

NASCAR goes back to its roots with a huge Nashville blowout

NASHVILLE — Kyle Busch toted his championship trophy all over Nashville for… Continue reading

Alphonso Davies, Ashley Lawrence named Canada Soccer Players of the Month

TORONTO — Alphonso Davies and Ashley Lawrence have been named Canada Soccer… Continue reading

Much anticipated Star Wars-based ride debuts at Disney World

ORLANDO, Fla. — The resistance is rising. “Rise of the Resistance,” the… Continue reading

Alex Trebek among special 2020 Canadian Academy award recipients

TORONTO — Alex Trebek, David Suzuki, Tina Keeper and Daniel Levy will… Continue reading

Ennis records three points to help lift Senators over Oilers

Senators 5 Oilers 2 EDMONTON — Tyler Ennis had a goal and… Continue reading

Alberta Finance Minister voted MLA of the year in poll of political peers

EDMONTON — Finance Minister Travis Toews come on down, you’ve been voted… Continue reading

Quebec police seek potential victims of former cop, coach accused of sex crimes

LONGUEUIL, Que. — A former Montreal police officer and minor hockey coach… Continue reading

Most Read