Spectators arriving to see Bard Fiction are immediately greeted by the warmth and intimacy of the Plateau’s Mainline Theatre. In anticipation of the show, audience members mingled in a small, dimly lit room filled with couches and the buzz of conversation. Eventually, a flute coaxed the audience into their seats with a Renaissance-style melody, setting the tone for this Shakespearian Pulp Fiction rendition.
The production is well done, even if it’s somewhat inaccessible to those who haven’t seen the iconic Quentin Tarantino film—though it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t have. Despite this potential flaw, the acting, set design, and script unite to form an extremely successful adaptation.
For the most part, the fast-paced Shakespearian dialect was perfectly executed, with the exception of a few slips of the tongue by contracted killer Jules Winnfield—in this production renamed Julius (Kareem Tristan Alleyne)—making some of his lines incomprehensible. Fake accents, dramatic fight scenes, and impassioned speeches were executed with precision and energy, bringing the script, staging, and storyline to life.
The simple set was expertly repurposed in each scene for a new and distinct use. It consisted of an antique looking table and benches, with various accessorizing objects: Cups in the restaurant, weapons in the weapons shop—effortless, yet effective. The characters’ interactions with such simple objects smoothly naturalized their transformations—the table metamorphosed into a wagon and the benches became their foot rests.
Effective lighting completes the play’s immersive visual world, harmonizing the various parts of the production. A unique lighting technique was put to good use when a treasure box was opened and the gold seemingly reflected onto Vincent’s (Timothy Diamond) face. Small details like this complete the production.
Music, however, is a weak point. The score is underwhelming, provided entirely by just a single, average flautist. Although those light touches of Renaissance-style melodies add a comic touch, working in juxtaposition with the modern concept the audience holds in their heads, it feels incomplete and shoddy at times. This is a minor detail, but one which could elevate the production significantly if executed well.
The wittily adapted script translates the vulgar silver-tongued lines of the main characters, Vincent and Julius, into hilarious Shakespearian dialogue. This amalgamation is spotlighted at critical moments, such as when the famous cheeseburger dialogue from Tarantino’s film is adapted to refer to a “cottage pie” instead—prompting a roar of laughter from the audience. The script adaption was a highlight of the production, in both quality and comic effect.
In many ways, the overall success of the production can be gauged by both the high attendance and postive reception. Few seats were left empty, and the sound of laughter more than filled the hollow spaces. Any flaws in the production are overshadowed by the successes in acting, set design, and lighting. The intimacy of the theatre played a pivotal role in the production, making each pained expression, each drop of sweat, and each small mistake visible. Bard Fiction is an authentic, gritty, and very real spectacle—and that may be its true success.
Bard Fiction will be playing at Mainline Theatre (3997 St. Laurent) until Sept. 28. Student tickets are $12.