Sunday, September 18, 2011
The Ingenues are Growing Up
by Kelly Bedard
This was the year that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival finally saw their ingénues grow up.
Sara Topham, now in older and sturdier roles, is still smattering her characters with a think layer of affected fairy dust, but for the most part the young women of this year’s company are bringing intelligence and guts to their varied and demanding roles.
Amanda Lisman is back too. She was never actually gone, but the bright and relatable actress was sorely underused last season so it’s a delight to have her back in a leading role for the first time since her winning turn as Roxanne in 2009’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Her Lavinia is wonderfully angry, the portrayal of which is a tall order for a character marred with forced helplessness. But Lisman gets the effect across beautifully, making her victim anything but weak.
The loss of the wonderful Andrea Runge to an injury early in the season proved devastating for the less ingénue-y females in the season (Claire Lautier’s Tamora, Yanna McIntosh’s Queen Elizabeth and the delightful but unsatisfying Merry Wives can’t make up for a determined but inadequate standby Viola), but the younger, sweeter set has stepped it up this season to save the day a bit.
It’s about time.