Every summer in New York, hundreds of people queue to get their hands on a free ticket for ‘Shakespeare in the Park’, a professionally-acted play held in Central Park. Tonight I went to Brooklyn’s equivalent: Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.
Ryan and I headed to the car park on the corner 5th Ave and 17th Street in South Slope for a performance of a Midsummer Night’s Dream – conceived by the husband-and-wife duo who own South on the other side of the street.
By the time we arrived, we’d already been beaten by hundreds of people who were sitting on deck chairs and picnic blankets around a small stage and band tent. We settled near the back of the crowd as the sun was beginning to set.
I’m not very familiar with the play so when it started and I couldn’t hear a word, I had no idea what was going on and started to get grumpy. But after finding a spot behind the crowd with a much better view of the stage, I really got into it.
It wasn’t as hard to follow as I thought it’d be, and as the fairies cast their love spells and the costumes became more ridiculous, I found myself laughing out loud.
This was a mere car park, but they used the space pretty well; they had a couple of lights flooding the stage for when it became darker, and they used clothes rails lined with cream-coloured items for the wings. I thought this was a really inventive touch, especially because all of the actors needed costume change – and all of the characters were so quick to change their minds – so it added some nice symbolism.
A couple of the actors could have done with improving their projection, but for the most part they did really well contending with the sirens, ice cream vans and screaming kids that passed the parking lot. And the novelty of the idea didn’t wear off once: We were watching a proper play – in a parking lot!