Thursday, June 21, 2012

As You Like It

There is something quite moving, almost magical, to be an audience member watching live theater under the stars.  The Elizabethan Theater of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers just that venue.   

The Elizabethan Theater in Ashland - Photo credit:  OSF
Whether or not you enjoy the performance, you’re sure to enjoy the venue and no one can dispute the stage setting of an OSF production and the staging for As You Like It is no exception.  OSF is amazingly adept at knowing when enough is just perfect and upon entering the Elizabethan one instantly takes in the massive clockwork gears suspended center stage and the pulleys to the left and right.  It is classic in its simplicity, yet modern in its resemblance to the 1980’s genre of Steampunk.  It is perfect and plays an integral part of helping the story unfold.

Primarily set in the Forest of Arden, with a multitude of characters, the setting for the forest is simple with its boughs of wood; humorous with actors portraying deer, sheep and goats, and it takes the audience to the heart of the forest and the heart of the love story between Orlando and Rosalind. Intermixed throughout the staging of the forest is the movement of the clock of seasons; as well as the actresses portraying the seasonal changes with Spring Grace, (Mandie Jenson) Summer Grace (Liisa Ivarry), Autumn Grace (Catherine E. Coulson) and Winter Grace (Kimberly Scott) accompanied by subtle musical over tones and beautiful costuming.
Rosalind & Celia in disguise, talking with Orlando
Directed by Jessica Thebus, As You Like It has a large cast of 23 main characters, as well as the ensemble and at times it can take a few moments to catch up with who’s who.  The melancholy nobleman, Jacques, is portrayed by a woman (Kathyrn Meisle) and while her performance was lovely, it took a bit of close listening to understand her role in the story.   Duke Senior (Howie Seago) is deaf in this production and the addition of sign language offers an interesting aspect to the performance.  Rosalind (Erica Sullivan) and Celia (Christine Albright) have a strong connection and play off of each other with constant ease and graceful timing.

With a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission, As You Like It takes the audience through the Victorian world of royal courts, brotherly love and forgiveness, loyalty, love and marriage, and the thoughtfulness and wisdom of those who have found peace and harmony in the Forest of Arden.  To read more:

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