The play’s the thing

The Elizabethan Stage, prior to an evening showing of "Love's Labour's Lost."

Ashland, Oregon might not be as sexy as Paris or glamorous like Tokyo, but this little town has something special, just the same. It’s home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), and believe it or not, that’s reason enough to pay Ashland a little visit.

Looking like something straight out of a postcard, downtown Ashland is a cluster of vintage bookstores, bakeries and funky little shops that sell random trinkets you don’t need but want to buy anyway. It takes a day or two to realize that the charm isn’t just superficial and cheesy — Oregonians are genuinely folksy, or, at least the ones in Ashland are.

The biggest draw, though, truly is the annual Shakespeare festival. And this is no small-town showing of “Romeo and Juliet” — I’m talking about night after night of large-scale productions held in a theater inspired by the Globe, back in ye olde England.

Now, we all know that Shakespeare’s got more than enough staying power as it is, but when talented actors join forces with the creative giants behind the OSF, the show does more than simply “go on,” it astounds.

To be perfectly honest, I had relatively low expectations for “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” but the performance kept me entertained, which is kind of the whole point, I think. Nothing about the play felt old or stuffy, there was even an unanticipated dance number that had audience members howling — no really, howling — with laughter. A standing ovation was the immediate response to a job so well done, but now that I’ve had some time to reflect on my time in Ashland, it seems as though the most appropriate way to show my appreciation for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is to plan a return trip for next year.


Image Source: Jillian Wertheim