- Boston Theatre Critic
William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It is a story of love and the adventurous journey towards new beginnings. Duke Senior has been banished from court by his younger brother Duke Frederick. Frederick then banishes his niece Rosalind who has grown close with his daughter Celia. The pair attend a wrestling match where Rosalind first lays eyes on Orlando whom she quickly becomes enamored with. Orlando flees from his older brother Oliver who is threatening his life and withholding his rightful inheritance from their father Sir Rowland. He ends up in the Forest of Arden, where Duke Senior, Rosalind and Celia have also found sanctuary. But as we see in the play, when characters take on a foreign persona and live in disguise happily ever after doesn’t come as quickly as they’d like.
Director Allyn Burrows creatively used the entirety of the Roman Garden Theatre as a playing space for the characters in this Roaring Twenties themed production. The scenic design by Jim Youngerman afforded the actors the opportunity to enter from a dozen different locations that surrounded the audience and main performance space. This kept the audience present in the play as they consistently had to change their focal point as the scenes progressed and the characters entered and exited.
The cast of nine, many of whom took on multiple roles, made each of their characters appealing in some way. The couples were clearly smitten with one another; especially Rosalind and Orlando, played by Aimee Doherty and Deaon Griffin-Pressley. The charismatic Aimee Doherty was perfectly cast as Rosalind. She was kindhearted, but direct in her conversations with other characters. Her interactions with Orlando, Deaon Griffin-Pressley, were bursting with the sweetness of young love. The cast also included Gregory Boover as Silvius, Thomas Brazzle as Oliver/Aubrey, MaConnia Chesser as Touchstone, Nigel Gore as Duke Frederick/Duke Senior, Zoё Laiz as Celia/Adam, Ella Loudon as Phoebe/LaBelle and Mark Zeisler as Charles/Jacques. This talented cast kept the pace of the show moving right along while also giving the audience plenty of opportunities to laugh.
The original music, by sound designer Arshan Gailus, was well performed by the cast, led by music director & guitarist Gregory Boover. The musical additions both live and recorded were meticulously placed in the production to add to the jazzy twenties atmosphere.
All that being said, for a comedy, this play dragged on at times, though it was through no fault of the actors or the direction, it was simply Shakespeare rambling on. It was not my favorite comedy that Shakespeare & Company has produced, but it was lighthearted and amusing and the audience enjoyed themselves; which is often half the battle. ©
This production runs about two hours and fifteen minutes with an intermission. As You Like It plays through September 2nd in the Roman Garden Theatre on the Shakespeare & Company campus located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox, Massachusetts. Tickets and more information about this play as well as Shakespeare & Company’s full season can be found at www.shakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 413-637-3353.
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/