William Shakespeare’s 16th century comedy As You Like It is a play that few agree upon. Many feel it lacks the strength of other Shakespearean works, while others simply can’t get enough of it. Most Triangle theatergoers, however, will have to agree that the PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production is just too charming not to like, no matter how they feel about the work itself.
Set in 1940s France and peppered with whimsical costumes by Anne Kennedy and a strong cast under the direction of Joseph Haj, the work is Shakespearean comedy at its most decadent and enjoyable. The set, designed by Peter Ksander, does double duty as Duke Senior’s royal court, behind which is the lush green Forest of Arden, complete with realistic-looking trees that reach to the ceiling.
The play really takes off once the lovely Celia (Alice Whitley) and Rosalind (Marianne Miller) are introduced. Their believable friendship and playful interactions with one another are heartwarming to watch. While Miller is strong as a charismatic and at times conniving Rosalind, it is Whitley’s ethereal beauty and graceful stage presence that keep the viewer hooked.
Kelsey Didion’s Phebe, decked out in colorful bag-lady attire, is also memorable. She delights audiences with her impeccable comedic timing and some truly awful but appropriate makeup choices. Jimmy Kieffer’s slightly effeminate but always hilarious Touchstone is also spot-on.
Fun touches, such as spy music when the girls make their escape from the court, and a few subtle good-natured jabs at the work itself, keep the show light and airy, while other moments, such as the famous “All the world’s a stage,” speech are delivered with nothing short of poignancy. Original music, composed by Mike Yionoulis and delivered soulfully by various members of the cast, adds an incredibly original touch to an old classic.
This is the show to see for theatergoers looking for a night of fun and entertainment. PlayMakers patrons will be transported into a new and incredibly colorful world, and they will regret having to leave it behind at the end of the evening. The show will run through Sunday, Oct. 10th, and should definitely not be missed.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 28th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/09/28/706198/the-audience-likes-this-play-a.html; Sept. 22nd Chapel Hill, NC Daily Tar Heel preview and Sept. 28th review by Colin Warren-Hicks: http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/article/2010/09/playmake_presentation_of_as_you_like_it_experiments_with_setting_and_music and http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/article/2010/09/playmakers_repertory_companys_as_you_like_it_reviewed_as_pleasing_despite_a_slow_start, respectively; and Sept. 24th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/9637840/article-Human-truths–humor-and-romance-in–As-You-Like-It-?instance=homesixthleft (Note: You must register first to read this article). (To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Sept. 22nd Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/09/playmakers’-joseph-haj-claims-“as-you-like-it”-whiplashes-between-the-goofball-and-the-profound/.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts & Entertainment reviews online, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/.
PlayMakers Repertory Company presents AS YOU LIKE IT at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2, 2 p.m. Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5-9, and 2 p.m. Oct. 10 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27514. TICKETS: $10-$35.
BOX OFFICE: 919/962-PLAY or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/843-2311, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/groupsales.aspx. SHOW: http://playmakersrep.org/performances/event.aspx?id=7d2362fe-4bdf-4a2b-aba9-62452907e0d9.
STUDY GUIDES: http://playmakersrep.org/assets/performances/AYLI – PRC Study Guide v2.pdf (PlayMakers Repertory Company) and http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/AsYou/likeit.html (Utah Shakespearean Festival).
PRC BLOG: http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.
NOTE 1: On Sept. 29th and Oct. 3rd, there will be FREE post-performance discussions with representatives of the show’s creative team, including designers, production staff, and/or actors.
NOTE 2: There will be 10:30 a.m. Student Matinee Performances on Sept. 30th and Oct. 6 and 8th (for details, see http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/studentmatinee.aspx).
NOTE 3: The Prologue Series, created by PlayMakers and the Chapel Hill Library, will present a pre-show conversation with a member of the PlayMakers creative team at the library at 12 noon on Oct. 2nd.
NOTE 4: On Oct. 8th and 9th, UNC’s Program in the Humanities and Human Values will present a two-day seminar on “Creativity and Comedy in Elizabethan England” (for details, telephone 919-962-1544 or click http://www.unc.edu/depts/human/level_3/2010_Fall/4-AsYouLikeIt.html).
NOTE 5: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5th performance, which will also be sign-language interpreted.
NOTE 6: The Lucy Daniels Foundation (http://www.ldf.org/home/) and the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society (http://www.ncpsasoc.org/) will sponsor “Mindplay: A 50-minute Hour,” a FREE psychoanalytic discussion led by Harold Kudler, MD, after the 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9th and 2 p.m. Oct. 10th performances.
The Play (e-text): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ShaAYLF.html (1623 First Folio Edition, courtesy University of Virginia) and http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/MobAsYo.html (1866 Globe Edition, courtesy UVa).
Shakespeare Resources: http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/index.html (University of Victoria and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada).
Joseph Haj: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/artist.aspx?id=69bcb020-c4f9-4507-a976-dc964c388637 (PlayMakers Repertory Company).