Corrections or additions?
This review by Jack Florek was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
July 19, 2000. All rights reserved.
Review: `As You Like It’
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
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
killed in a wrestling match with a broad-limbed bully named Charles
(Michael Treadwell). But to both Oliver’s and Charles’ surprise,
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
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
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
solitary realist at play’s end. But even his fate is put into
when we last see him he is being pursued by the fop LeBeau (Jerry
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
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
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
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
Westwind’s "As You Like It" is nothing flashy, but it is
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
— Jack Florek
Edgerstoune Road, 609-397-7331. $12 adults; $10 students & seniors.
Performances continue Thursday through Sunday, July 20 to 23.
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