Monday, July 23, 2018

Margin Notes: As You Like It

Lily Waldron and Caroline Aimetti
as Phebe and Celia. Photo by
Andy Ingalls.

Seen on: Saturday, 7/21/18.
My grade:  A+

Plot and Background
Rosalind and Celia are close as two cousins can be, even though Celia's usurping Duke father sent Rosalind's usurped Duke father into exile in the Forest of Arden. However, Duke Frederick is temperamental and banishes Rosalind soon after, as well as a young man named Orlando. Luckily for all of us, Orlando and Rosalind have recently fallen in love with each other, so when they meet again in the forest (she now in disguise as young man), she tutors him in the proper ways of wooing. And that's just the A plot. Hamlet Isn't Dead presents As You Like It as part of its ongoing mission to present the entire Shakespeare canon in chronological order.

What I Knew Beforehand
As we all know, I am a habitual and enthusiastic audience member/reviewer for Hamlet Isn't Dead's playful and music-filled productions. I've seen a few productions of this play, so had an idea of what to expect.


Play: Another tight, terrific, and tuneful comedy from the Hamlet Isn't Dead crew. Director David Andrew Laws stages the show in the round, with twinkle lights strung overhead and a squishy moss floor below, and keeps the pace swift and free-wheeling, as characters cross - and skirt - paths throughout the forest while accompanied by live music (courtesy of Anna Stacy's Amiens and others). He achieves a sweet and joyful condensing of the comedy (the most significant cut, for any purists, is anything involving Touchstone and Audrey; and the biggest shuffle is a reordering of much of Jaques's material to allow him to be our shepherd through the show), keeping Rosalind at the center as the unassuming mastermind of much of the goings on in a place she barely knows.

Cast: This cast is composed entirely of women or gender nonconforming actors, and every last one of them is a delight, from Tay Bass's strapping yet girlish Rosalind to Rachel Caplan's heroically lovestruck Orlando, to Caroline Aimetti's wisecracking Celia, to Briana Sakamoto's endearingly twitchy Oliver. Then there's Maya Martin-Udry's Duke Frederick, straight out of a Roald Dahl novel (I mean that in the best possible sense; her physicality is amazing), or the adorable bumpkins Phebe and Silvius, as played by Lily Waldron and Ashil Lee. Kelly Blaze's Jaques hosts the forest and our journey through it with an easy grace, and Lauren Wainwright's Duke Senior and Anna Stacy's Amiens are benevolent eyes and voices, watching over the proceedings. And lest I forget, Jenny Grober is fucking hilarious in what is almost always a throwaway part, Charles the wrestler.


Running: Now playing at El Barrio's Artspace PS109 (Hamlet Isn't Dead) - Opening: July 20, 2018. Closing: July 28, 2018.
Category: straight play with music
Length: 1 hours, 45 minutes, including intermission.

Creative Team

Playwright: William Shakespeare
Music: Singer Joy
Director: David Andrew Laws Assistant Director: Sophia Carlin
Cast: Anna Stacy, Ashil Lee, Briana Sakamoto, Caroline Aimetti, Jenny Grober, Kelly Blaze, Laurel Andersen, Lauren Wainwright, Lily Waldron, Maya Martin-Udry, Rachel Caplan, Tay Bass.

Rachel Caplan and Tay Bass as Orlando and Rosalind. Photo by Andy Ingalls.

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