SUBMIT ABOUT FAQ
PEOPLE COMPANIES VENUES
LOGIN NEW USER PRODUCTIONS
REVIEWERS SIX DEGREES
A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
As You Like It

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4252

SHOWING : May 31, 2012 - July 01, 2012

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

All the worlds a stage . . . We invite you to join us on another trip into Shakespeare's enchanted woods. . . where Rosalind disguises herself as a man as Orlando litters the woods with love notes praising her beauty and virtue. Will the two lovers be united? Will Orlando survive the wrestling match? Will you have a great time? Here's a hint: in June there's no better place to be than in Shakespeare's woods at The Shakespeare Tavern.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Troy Willis
Adam/Corin/Hymen Tony Brown
Celia Kelly Criss
Rosalind Veronika Duerr
Audrey Rachel Frawley
Phebe Dani Herd
Orlando Jonathan Horne
Jaques de Boys/Sir Oliver Martex Andrew Houchins
Frederick Vinnie Mascola
Jaques Jeff McKerley
Le Beau/Silvius Matt Nitchie
Touchstone Daniel Parvis
Duke/Charles Jay Peterson
Amiens/William Mark W. Schroeder
Dennis Clarke Weigle
Oliver Jacob York
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Out of the Woods
by Dedalus
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
4.5
At Last!

Since Kenneth Branagh�s 2006 film of �As You Like It,� I�ve been (im)patiently waiting for an on-stage version that brings alive the characters and themes as clearly and as entertainingly as did that marvelous adaptation. This has always been a �problem� play for me, and I�ve never embraced it as a favorite as I have �12th Night,� �Much Ado,� and �Merry Wives.� Most productions (apparently) have trouble clarifying the various aspects of love on display, or tend to give short shrift to the town/forest court/county dichotomies, or come up with a �concept� that is more �clever� than �smart,� doing little to illuminate the plot�s dark corners and ambiguities.

At last, here is a staging that is pure delight from start to finish, that gives equal weight to over-the-top clowning and beneath-the-surface emotion. Sticking with their traditional �original practice� approach, the Shakespeare Tavern has this time collected a cast that brings these characters alive, that hits all the highs and lows our literature professors told us were there, and even gives a sly nudge-nudge wink-wink to some of the plot contrivances that usually bug me.

Let�s start with the Plot. As its place in the Tavern �Evolution Series� implies, this is probably one of Shakespeare�s most �mature� comedies � equal parts slapstick, wordplay, and dark potential. It has more depth than the earlier successes of �Midsummer� or �Two Gentlemen,� but it also does not have the overabundance of drama found in later plays like �Winter�s Tale� or �Pericles.� The Duke of Whatever has been o�erthown by his brother and banished to the Forest of Arden. The exiled Duke�s daughter, Rosalind, remains behind, as companion to the �bad� Duke�s daughter, Celia. In a parallel plot, brothers Oliver and Orlando are undergoing a similar upheaval � their father has died, and oldest son Oliver would be happy if Orlando just disappeared.

There is a pivotal wrestling match, during which Orlando (barely) defeats the new Duke�s favorite, so must run for his life, but NOT before falling in love with Rosalind, who is subsequently also banished from the court. Celia decides to join her, and the two disguise themselves as a boy (�Ganymede�) and his simple sister. Soon, the paths of Orlando and �Ganymede� cross, and � well, you know what�s to come.

Why this complex web of relationships and politics and philosophical ruminations on love and courting works so well this time is simple � the cast. Truth to tell, that�s apparently ALL that was needed to make this work for me! I�ve been a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Veronika Duerr�s for a long time now, and here, she gives us a Rosalind every bit as tasty as her Viola was in last year�s �12th Night� (a role she�ll be repeating next month). This is a Rosalind at home in both court and forest, comfortable in both gown and breeches. More to the point, we see the connections she has with all the characters � the �Lust at First Sight� attraction to Orlando that gradually blossoms into something deeper as her Ganymede charade continues, the giddy-girl BFF interactions with Celia, the heartfelt reunion with her father, the sense of betrayal from her uncle, the friendship with Touchstone � all these aspects were real, and often rib-tickling funny in Ms. Duerr�s more-than-capable hands.

As Celia, Kelly Criss is every bit her match, equal parts little-girl lost-in-the-woods and proud heir-to-the-dukedom, loyal friend and betrayed daughter. These two actresses are a true delight together and bring out every morsel of plentiful humor that is in this script without neglecting the darker under-belly of Shakespeare�s court intrigues.

As Orlando, Jonathan Horne is able to show us a �male ingénue� with depth. Yes, he moons and swoons over his lust-at-first-sight attraction to Rosalind, but he never neglects the subtle sexual politics of his �unseemly� attraction to this Ganymede fellow, and embraces their friendship with ALL that that implies. As he is �schooled in love� in the forest, we soon see that he is not only a suitable match for Rosalind, but a deserving heir to title and nobility.

I also have to praise newcomer Jay Peterson, large and imposing, who makes a vivid appearance as the wrestler Charles, then, in an impressive switch, comes back almost unrecognizable as the exiled Duke. Other roles are filled with a forest full of familiar faces and newcomers. Jeff McKerley gives us a marvelously depressed Jacques, spellbinding with the all-too-familiar �All the World�s a Stage� speech, Daniel Parvis continues his run of comic roles with a delightfully off-color Touchstone, Matt Nitchie gives us a woefully forlorn hysterically woebegone shepherd-in-love Silvius, and Jacob York is a reluctantly nasty Oliver, actually convincing in his late-in-the show conversion to �good guy.�

The staging by Troy Willis is much more interesting than the stand-in-a-line-and-orate blocking of the Tavern�s 2010 staging, with a well-choreographed and executed wrestling match at the start, a series of nicely-blocked pas de deux couplings of various characters, a gorgeous sampling of pleasant musical interludes (nicely composed by Mark Schroeder, Bo Gaiason, and Clarke Weigle), and an attention to pace that makes the (sorta kinda) long running time pass in a seeming whirl.

But, when all is said and done, this production soars on the wings of Veronika Duerr and Kelly Criss � I feel almost like a creepy old-man fan-boy as I gush, but watching them take on this story is an exercise in sheer joy and a true theatrical geek-asm.

Not to be too creepy, but that�s just as I like it!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

�
[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

CLOSING SOON
Eclipsed
by Danai Gurira
Synchronicity Performance Group
Incorruptible
by Michael Hollinger
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.
Summer Harvest - The Corporate Collection
by various
Onion Man Productions
The Miracle Worker
by William Gibson
Gypsy Theatre Company
NOW PLAYING
Eclipsed
by Danai Gurira
Synchronicity Performance Group
Incorruptible
by Michael Hollinger
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.
Murder and Stranger Things
by John Babcock
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
Summer Harvest - The Corporate Collection
by various
Onion Man Productions
The Miracle Worker
by William Gibson
Gypsy Theatre Company

©2012 TheaterReview.com. All rights reserved.