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This review by Jack Florek was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

July 19, 2000. All rights reserved.

Review: `As You Like It’

E-mail: JackFlorek@princetoninfo.com

Westwind Repertory Company winds up a successful fifth

season with one of William Shakespeare’s more sedate comedies, "As

You Like It." Although it features weddings, dances, and an

onstage

wrestling match, the bulk of the play is talk, talk, talk. What is

more, after the first act, it barely contains any plot at all. It

is perhaps one of the first character studies in Western drama, and

without a doubt one of Shakespeare’s comic masterpieces.

Duke Frederick (Jeffrey Alan Davis) has taken over the throne of his

brother Duke Senior (Curtis Kaine) and exiled him off to the Forest

of Arden. Their daughters, Celia (Laura Jackson) and Rosalind (Julia

Ohm), spend cheerful days living in the castle discussing their love

lives. Meanwhile, two brothers, Orlando (M.A. Young) and Oliver (N.

Charles Leeder) have their own problems. Oliver arranges to have

Orlando

killed in a wrestling match with a broad-limbed bully named Charles

(Michael Treadwell). But to both Oliver’s and Charles’ surprise,

Orlando

wins. Rosalind, who happens to witness the match, falls madly in love

with Orlando, and then is hastily banished to the forest as well.

Rosalind, disguises herself as a man named Ganymede, and soon

encounters

the unwitting Orlando. She then proceeds to ostensibly try to cure

him of his lovesickness, but uses the opportunity to secretly test

him and his devotions.

The forest is also visited by a variety of clowns, musicians, lords,

goatherds, and shepherds whose stories reflect and contrast Rosalind’s

and Orlando’s. The pointedly named Touchstone (Dale Simon), a

sophisticated

fool with a penchant for mocking any hint of the sentimentality of

"amour," soon finds himself giddily in love with a goatherd

named Audrey (Kay Schwinn Potucek). Phoebe (Janet Quatarone), unable

to see through Rosalind’s disguise, forsakes other suitors in order

to pursue Ganymede. Jaques (Brian A. Bara), who utters the famous

lines that begin, "All the world’s a stage," remains a

hard-bitten

solitary realist at play’s end. But even his fate is put into

question;

when we last see him he is being pursued by the fop LeBeau (Jerry

Dunn).

Often modern productions of "As You Like It"

rely on a kind of vulgar slap-dash modernization, inserting certain

socio-political angles that seems to imply a certain distrust of the

modern audiences’ ability to comprehend and enjoy the subtleties of

the play as written. Westwind’s production does not. Kathy Garofano’s

direction is fast paced and respectful, inviting the audience into

the play’s world without a lot of condescending winks and gimmicks.

She is able to keep a tight rein on the proceedings, letting the words

stand for themselves, while still allowing the characters (and actors)

their personal idiosyncrasies.

Julia Ohm is both charming and sensual as Rosalind. Her tobacco-choked

voice seems perfectly suited to play a woman disguised as a man. Yet

her femininity is never in question. Even, as Ganymede, complete with

fuzzy mustache and britches, her subtle flirtations with Orlando are

enticing, yet magnificently understated. M.A. Young as the rather

dim-bulbed Orlando is appropriately mystified by Rosalind’s

shenanigans,

and as the audience laughs at his deception, seems wholly capable

of not getting the joke.

Brian A. Bara and Dale Simon are both wonderful as Jaques and

Touchstone.

Elizabethan language flows out of their mouths as naturally as if

they were ordering a hamburger. Janet Quatarone, in the small role

of Phoebe, brings a rough-hewn sexiness to her character that nearly

steals the show’s climax. Her charisma is such that I found it

impossible

not to watch her whenever she was on stage.

Melissa Updegraff Wyatt’s costume design are workman-like and well

suited to the production. Michael Antoniewicz’ musical compositions

are simply lovely to listen to. They play no small part in creating

the sort of mood that makes this outdoor production such an enjoyable

experience.

Westwind’s "As You Like It" is nothing flashy, but it is

certainly

solid, and a worthy offering to the tradition of Shakespeare ‘neath

the stars. The Green at the Hun School is a particularly lovely spot.

With Shakespeare in the foreground, and a stream of fireflies blinking

in the distance. . . add imagination, and the air seems to be

inhabited

by angels.

— Jack Florek

As You Like It, Westwind Repertory, Hun School,

Edgerstoune Road, 609-397-7331. $12 adults; $10 students & seniors.

Performances continue Thursday through Sunday, July 20 to 23.


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