Arkansas Times: "As You Like It" is "a gracious romp".
by Bernard Reed
July 6, 2011
|Dan Matisa as Jaques.|
Superbly acted and directed, the rest of "As You Like It" is the typical lighthearted pastoral romance. "Ganymede" does "his" merry best to unite a pair of lovesick shepherds, one of whom falls in love with "him" instead. Ganymede also runs into Orlando, who unwittingly confesses his love for Rosalind. An assortment of other forest characters, blessed with their author's sharp-tongued wit, amorously pursue each other, while back in the kingdom Duke Fredrick calculates his revenge against all those characters in the play who are having more fun than him. Finally tiring of her charade, Rosalind drops her disguise and works on making sure that everyone ends up coupled and happy. Spoiler alert — everybody gets married in the final scene.
As enjoyable as he can be, Shakespeare is also dauntingly complex — one wrong move can make him boring and impenetrable. Although at times a bit lightning-quick, this is not a trap that the Shakespeare Festival falls into; it's a gracious romp on the playwright's more high-spirited side. Instead of pondering "To be, or not to be," they frolic in the good news that "All the world's a stage"— a monologue that in this production is both melancholy and humorous, not forgetting its comedy with the fame of its lines.
Unless you're an actor, you may hesitate to say that any work of Shakespeare's is fun; most of the time, that doesn't seem quite the word. But this production of "As You Like It" could be described as such. The actors seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, delivering their speeches and asides as much for the audience as for themselves. Scattered with references to the modern day, as well as a live soundtrack of a few eighties pop classics, a purist might not have been amused; but what is Shakespeare if not eternally accessible? It is for the people, the hardscrabble crowds that thronged the Globe Theatre to stand in the mud and get drunk. If Harold Bloom doesn't like it, that's because he was never supposed to.
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