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As You Like It
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : Folding Chair Classical Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4938

SHOWING : October 00, 2016 - Unknown

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Seven actresses in an empty space play 21 characters in this all-female production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.

Folding Chair Classical Theatre brings AS YOU LIKE IT to life with its signature fast-paced, minimalist style that strips the play down to its raw essence. We invite you to join us.


CAST & CREW LIST
Composer Alexis Thomason
Director Marcus Geduld
Stage Manager Jim Walsh
Rosalind Lisa Blankenship
Orlando Erin Greenway
Jaques/Le Beau Natalie Karp
Celia/Adam/Audrey/Phebe Jenni McCarthy
Duke Senior/Duke Frederick/Corin Betty Mitchell
Oliver Martext/page/lord/musician Judy Thomas
Charles/J. de Boys/Touchstone/Silvius/Am Rachel Wansker
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REVIEWS

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Seven Women, Six Chairs
by playgoer
Sunday, October 30, 2016
4.5
A set consisting of a few props and six folding chairs in a black box theatre. The show starting with the cast sitting in a circle, reviewing their scripts. A cast of all women in a play whose characters are mostly men. Should it work? A likely "no." Does it work? An unqualified "yes."

Credit director Marcus Geduld for shaping the play to flow seamlessly from actor prep into the story itself. Credit Harley Gould for creating lighting that suggests a dappled forest when appropriate, while never casting distracting shadows. Credit Alexis Thomason for setting Shakespeare’s songs to charming music. Credit Jake Guinn for effective fight direction. And credit the cast for bringing over 20 characters to theatrical life.

Everyone plays multiple roles. Betty Mitchell gets the older roles; the delightfully goofy Rachel Wansker gets the lion’s share of comic roles. Judy Thomas gets a few small roles, functioning primarily as a musician. The fiery Erin Greenway plays the main male romantic role of Orlando; the matronly Lisa Blankenship plays her female counterpart, Rosalind. Natalie Karp plays a variety of roles in a serious vein, while Jenni McCarthy plays an even greater variety, mostly in a comic vein. All impress.

Certain moments have greater resonance in this production than in previous productions of "As You Like It" that I’ve seen. Ms. Karp’s melancholy Jaques has several, with her delivery of the "all the world’s a stage" speech followed movingly by the death of Ms. McCarthy’s Old Adam. Her Oliver nicely morphs from unpleasant at the start to sympathetic at the end. Ms. McCarthy is terrific in all her roles, with her giddy Celia a particular favorite of mine. Ms. Wansker is funny in so many ways in so many of her characters, yet glides into seriousness when the role calls for it. Ms. Greenway’s voice is clear as a bell throughout, her diction excellent and her emotions filling her speech. Ms. McCarthy does well in her role, particularly in trousers and in the epilogue, when she is somewhat unexpectedly garbed in an Elizabethan gown. Costumes otherwise are casual and modern.

The show is long, at nearly three hours, but moves well. Mr. Geduld has created a show that gives us the script of Shakespeare’s play writ large in the unadorned trappings of a bare-bones, wonderfully acted and gloriously directed production. Even the blocking is inventive, with one character or another exiting into the audience for a brief time before making their next entrance, letting only six chairs work for seven actors. The space is used beautifully, with a cleverness that imbues the entire production.

Does the show work? An unqualified "yes."

Clarifications: this production plays at the black box theatre at 7 Stages and runs throughout October 2016. It appears a few defaults were used in creating the entry for this play, preventing it from appearing in the listings of current plays. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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