AS YOU LIKE IT
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Currier
For tickets / schedule :
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California
RUN: July 12 – August 10, 2014
RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars
(Final preview night, July 11, 2014)
One of the most popular Shakespeare plays throughout the ages, and a rare opportunity to see a leading lady (or is it a gentleman?) shine, As You Like It is always a joy to see performed. Filled with wit, intrigue, romance, and quirky sidekick characters, it is the Shakespearean comedy form at its best. Check your troubles at the door to see a banished Duke banqueting in the forest, court clown propounding wisdom under his snarky commentary, a fetching noblewoman disguised as a man to test the one she loves, and in a marvelous twist of fate all comes right at the end.
Scott Coopwood returns to Marin Shakespeare with noble, forceful presence as the Dukes, bringing well crafted portrayals of each, leading the audience to believe they are truly brothers. In a brilliant portrayal of what can sometimes become a somewhat grating character, Teddy Spencer brings Orlando to life in a fully formed, down-to-earth way. His performance alone is worth attending the play. Orlando’s older brother, Oliver, who turns from villain to beloved romantic lead in the space of three lines, is managed by Davern Wright, who somehow makes the transition plausible—turning the audience from booing his every entrance to cheering him on in the final scene. Another unexpected jewel was Adam Roy as Touchstone the clown, who brings a sort of Petrushka wit yet melancholic presence to the production, anchoring the comedic nature of the play.
While I would definitely recommend attending, there were some aspects that could use improvement, and perhaps they will be by now, since I was at a preview. Nearly every entrance has the actors running out, and while this can bring a lively energy when used sparingly, having it at every single entrance grew somewhat uncomfortable. It takes the oft recited Doctor Who lines about always running a bit too much to heart. Also, while Rosalind, portrayed by Elena Wright, had a warm strength and power to her, the lead of Celia, by Livia Demarchi, fell a bit flat. Perhaps she was too enthusiastic all the time, but somehow the portrayal felt thin. It would be interesting to see the play with the two actresses reversed. Demarchi still did an excellent job, and it did not take me out of enjoying the play—she and Spencer have a definite stage presence together that was a joy to observe.
This is a play that needs to be seen, not read, so if you have never actually seen As You Like It on stage, now is the perfect chance. If you have seen it, I would still recommend Marin Shakespeare’s production. There are many memorable moments I did not touch on, such as the hilarious duo of the shepherd and shepherdess, the Elizabethan WWN style wrestler, and an absolutely hilarious French courtier.