Garrison, NY—There are mosquitoes, it’s humid, you’re slouching and buzzed from a glass of white wine, and the seats aren’t the most comfortable in the world. But my God if this isn’t the most spectacular way to watch a Shakespeare play. On the grounds of the Boscobel House and Gardens, you’ve taken a ride on Doc’s Delorean and entered a dreamy historic setting overlooking the Hudson River and grand green vistas; it is the antidote to any long work week and the most divine place to take a date.
While you could have made the hour plus train trip up here just for a scenic picnic, the Elizabethan entertainment put on by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (now in its 21st year) completes the voyage from Manhattan to another moment in time. If you’ve seen a show in London’s Globe Theatre or in Ashland, Oregon, you’ll find this experience is a similarly magical way to enjoy performances of Will’s work. When you get that first image of a troupe of seasoned actors dressed in whimsical, modern chic-meets-Wild Wild West attire cresting the hill from a distance, you know you’re settling in for more than a linguistic adventure.
Under the tent, tucked close in around the stage, the Much Ado About Nothing audience is whipped into a fit of laughter as Beatrice spouts sharp-witted tongues at a now hopelessly romantic Benedick—who not a scene earlier was a love-doubting buffoon tossing quips across the stage’s dirt floor. Yet you know the story, you know them all. So it’s a testament to the talented company of players—and men in drag—that even deep into the second act (well after 10:00 p.m.) the crowd still looks this alive. It’s been a hot night of wine and words—some perplexing, though enjoyable as always.
The festival, which is located next to the quaint, pedestrian-friendly town of Cold Spring, runs every night through September 6, and shows sell out fast so plan accordingly for a quick city escape. This visit is sure to be a top 20 memory, beginning with the curtain call, when a plainly dressed festival intern rocks a heavy bell across the lawn, stirring guests from their recumbent positions as the sun begins to set.
How to get there: Take Metro North to Cold Spring Station. Once there, the Bard Bus will charter attendees to Boscobel and back again after the show. Call 845.265.9575 to make a reservation. Round trip bus fare: $6. For tickets and more details, visit the website below. There are still tickets available for tonight’s performance of Pericles, wine tasting included.
(Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Box Office, 845.265.9575, hvshakespeare.org)
Photos: Courtesy of William Marsh