Make yourselves comfortable, it is going to be a long night in the park ... and we mean that literally.
“As You Like It” ran three hours long with one intermission. It would move a little faster if the audience got the jokes, but the actors often threw away the punch lines. Comedic timing is tough, and finding that comedic rhythm in iambic pentameter takes experience and probably more rehearsal than there was time for.
With that in mind, they said the dialogue at a good enough pace, but some of the diction and clarity of the dialogue has to be improved, so that it is easier for people to understand what they are saying. This is something that will certainly become better and better as the actors get more and more comfortable with their parts.
More importantly, the cast won the battle of getting across the plot and the flow of the story which is often lost in so much metaphor and flowery speech. Looking comfortable and natural with Shakespeare takes natural talent or a lot of practice. Amanda Spear looked as comfortable in this production as she did in “Spelling Bee” and was captivating as she fully inhabited the part of Celia.
Another first act standout was Jaime Patriarca as Jaques, particularly in her “All The World Is a Stage” monologue which is one of the most quintessential and immediately recognizable in Shakespearean literature.
Shannon Hill came to life as Rosalind in the second act, really finding her groove with both the character and the articulation of the dialogue.
But no one sounded as comfortable in the language as Bob Colonna who played the Duke Senior. He was born for Shakespeare.
On the technical side, they need more than two microphones. The sound was in and out if they went out of range. To combat this, the actors need to pretend there are no microphones, and they need to project to the back of the park as if it was the year 1599.
The sun did not go down until the start of the second act, and we wish it hadn’t. The lighting seemed to change between three settings randomly in the middle of scenes. The lighting could have been used to indicate the end of scenes or to indicate a change in location or mood. But they did not indicate anything. It was like the lighting board had a mind of its own. Hopefully this was a computer malfunction, not a lighting design choice.
Changing from semi-period costumes in court to modern dress in the Forest of Arden was also a questionable choice. It seemed inconsistent.
The set design was very well executed and locating this play in a park only enhanced the pastoral setting, helping to transport the audience to the Forest of Arden.
One final note, the musical interludes incorporating modern music was very clever. The song choices were appropriate to forwarding the story line, and the actors all had fantastic singing voices. It was a welcome diversion from lots of dialogue for both the audience and the actors.
“As You Like It” will continue to play through July 27 on Wednesday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m.