As You Like It
comedy by William Shakespeare; director, Jonathan Michaelsen; scenic design, Rueben Lucas; costumes design, Linda Pisano; original music, Terry LaBolt
July 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, & 24 at 7:30 pm July 19 and 25 at 2:00 pm Wells-Metz Theatre
As You Like It is this summer’s very welcome Shakespeare offering from the IU Festival Theatre.
Act one of As You Like It takes place in and around the dark court of the usurping Duke Frederick and his minions. Act two is in the sunny…though occasionally snowy…Forest of Arden of the exiled Duke and his companions.
The play opens with Zachary Spicer picking up trash as Orlando an ill-treated younger son with John Putz as Oliver, his evil older brother. Though successful in winning a match with the evil Duke’s wrestler, and the heart of the exiled Duke’s daughter Rosalind, Orlando is banished and makes for the forest. Rosalind is also banished and along with the evil Duke’s daughter Celia and the court’s fool Touchstone flees in the same direction.
Frankly, the Indiana Department of Parks and Recreation should be underwriting productions of As You Like It across the state. The forest is a safe place where in its relaxation lots of wonderful things can happen. The evil Duke Frederick, David Kortemeier, of the court is the exiled Duke Senior in the woods. Orlando and the canny Rosalind, Amanda Catania, can play out they’re at first sight love in courtship with Catania posing as a boy. In a bit of cleverly resolved complication, the shepherdess Phoebe, Emily Sullivan, falls for the cross dressed Rosalind. Evil older brother Oliver…reformed by life and the forest…falls for Celia, Mara Leffler.
Even Touchstone, Henry Woronicz, the stiff clown of the court finds new flexibility in the forest and even kicks up his heels with boyish abandon to find a December – May romance with the country Audrey, Maya Ferrario. Just before there’s a typically Shakespearean great marry off in the woods, the news comes that the evil duke has upon entering the forest met a holy man and is totally reformed.
A couple of caveats. I still don’t know why Touchstone is the only character who seems to muse directly to the audience and the extended love play between Orlando and Rosalind in the second act could be shortened.
Director Jonathan Michaelsen’s setting in the round brings the action up close. The cast is a mix of Actors Equity professionals and IU students with already impressive resumes. Strong acting, creative characterization and excellent diction offer Shakespeare for the eyes and the ears
The IU Festival Theatre’s production of As You Like It continues in repertory with a play based on Booth Tarkington’s the Gentleman from Indiana through July 25th.
You can find this review and others on our web site at WFIU dot ORG. On Monday I’ll have a review of The Gentleman from Indiana.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker.