BWW Review: Davis Shakespeare Festival Closes Out Its 9th Season With AS YOU LIKE IT
The Davis Shakespeare Festival is wrapping up its 9th season with the comedy As You Like It. It is one of Shakespeare's audience-pleasers and, interestingly, has the most songs in it of any Shakespeare play. The entire show is infused with pastoral music that has been modernized to a folk rock style by Timothy Nutter, who plays the guitar throughout. It serves as a bridge from the Shakespearean dialogue to the modern costumes and set pieces while successfully supporting the bohemian energy of the show.
Some of Shakespeare's most famous characters and quotes come from As You Like It and even theatre-goers new to Shakespeare will recognize, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Rosalind, Orlando, and Celia are familiar protagonists who bring the Forest of Arden to life with a cast of characters who all exist in our subconscious as love, lust, covetousness, and forgiveness.
The story itself centers around Rosalind, who has been banished to the Forest of Arden by her uncle, Duke Frederick. His daughter, Celia, accompanies Rosalind and they decide to take on disguises-Rosalind as the male Ganymede and Celia as Aliena. Concurrently, Rosalind's love, Orlando, learns that he must also flee to the forest to escape persecution by his brother. When they encounter each other, Orlando does not recognize Rosalind in her male garb, giving her the opportunity to test the bonds of their love, but not without mishap. The magic of the forest eventually grips all of the players, making love and forgiveness abound.
Rob Salas, director of As You Like It, says that his aim was to recreate the feeling of a weekend getaway to nature. The music and set design fulfilled his vision-it was like being transported to an idyllic campground in a relaxing, picturesque setting. Relevant casting and stellar performances by Steven Ho (Orlando), Andrea J. Love (Rosalind), Gabby Battista (Celia), and Charlie Lavaroni (Touchstone) round out an all-around high-quality experience. This is a Shakespeare work that lends itself to modernization and Davis Shakespeare accomplished it with the direction they chose.
Don't delay-go to the forest! As You Like It plays through October 14 at the Veterans Memorial Theatre in Davis. For tickets and information, go to www.shakespearedavis.org or call (530) 802-0998.
Photo credit: Yarcenia Garcia