Today’s Wall Street Journal drama column contains the first fruits of my recent trip out west, a review of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival:
In Idaho the license plates say “Famous Potatoes,” and the nickname of Boise, the state capitol, is “City of Trees.” Both statements are true as far as they go: Boise is as green as Dublin, while Idaho’s chief cash crop is so esteemed around these parts that you can even buy a tuber-shaped candy bar called the Idaho Spud. But Boise is also known, or should be, for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, whose theater is an outdoor pavilion across the street from the foothills of the Rockies, which supply a spectacular backdrop for the five plays performed there each summer. The productions are unfailingly fresh and engaging, and the casual atmosphere is perfect for art-starved tourists.
Boise is a smallish city (pop. 190,117) with a low-rise skyline, a pedestrian-friendly downtown and amiable residents who make a point of saying hello to startled strangers. Its companionable air is mirrored in the dress-as-you-please code of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, where flip-flops, insect repellent and well-stocked coolers are all standard equipment. Most of the local playgoers pack a meal or buy one on site, and dining is encouraged during the shows. You can either eat at your seat or book a box equipped with a picnic table. Each performance is given to the bucolic accompaniment of chirping birds and croaking frogs, with occasional guest appearances by a skunk who lives beneath the stage. (Not to worry–if you leave him alone, he’ll leave you alone.)
Don’t let the informality fool you: Idaho Shakespeare is both artistically serious and theatrically adventurous, and the anything-goes production style does much to enliven the straightforward bill of fare….
No link. You know what you can do, and you know what you should do. So do it.