As You Like It

As You Like It

As You Like It
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Dan McCleary
Starring Polly Lee, Tyler Hollinger, Carl N. Wallnau, Brad DePlanche
Orlando Shakespeare Theater

“As You Like It” may well be the Universal Shakespearean Comedy. It features cross-dressing, the “Hey Nonny Nonny” song, contrived plot points, and the requisite mass marriage happy ending. Rosalind (Lee) falls madly in love with madly in love with the hunky Orlando (Hollinger) when he grapples Wrestler Charles (Charles Waters) into the first full suplex I’ve seen on the legitimate stage. Needless to say, their parents are at war – Duke Frederick usurped Rosalind’s father Duke Senior (both played by Mr. Wallnau), and Orlando’s dad was on the wrong side of that rumble. Now Duke Senior lives in exile in mystical Arden Forest, a place best reached by climbing into a magical chest and hanging tight to the magical silk handkerchiefs provided for your convenience. As Frederick turns against Rosalind she grabs his daughter Celia (Susannah Millonzi) and court fool Touchstone (DePlanche) and jump into this wonderful theatrical device, and in a few acts, everyone gets a mate.
The show is a visual treat, and spectacle usurps story. Frederick’s court writhes with belly dancers and Arabic flutes, and while it look like we might be in for some sort of war commentary the action and accents gradually slip back to Elizabethan. You’ll cheer for Rosalind, Orlando, and his bad poetry, yet they seem less the center pole of the story than scaffold for a wacky supporting cast. That includes the intellectual grumpiness of Jacques (Erik Zivot) and a cast of comic servants including the slight yet elderly Adam (Brandon Roberts). As you would expect, the show stealing was all done by Mr. DePlanche and his faithful maharoof keeps us amused with his over the top antics and courting of the morally indistinct Audrey (Erika Wilhite). “As You Like It” feel fluffy, but in a enormously entertaining way. The dancing is exotic, the lighting dramatic, and the story non-threatening. It’s a great start to 2008.

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