“AS YOU LIKE IT”

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“As You Like It” is, of course, Shakespeare’s gender-bending comedy about lovestruck lads, deposed dukes and “manly” maidens.The story revolves around Rosalind and Orlando, who end up together in the Forest of Arden, having been banished there by the evil Duke Frederick.  Rosalind, however (accompanied by her best friend, Celia) has donned a disguise, that of the handsome young squire, Ganymede. Rosalind encounters Orlando any number of times, and yet (even though they’ve already met), he doesn’t recognize her; nor does her Dad, the exiled Duke Senior.  (Leave it to Shakespeare to make a young lady in the lamest of disguises unrecognizable even to her own father.) She even goes so far as to “pretend” to be Rosalind in order to school the tongue-tied Orlando in the ways of romance.

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Everything works out in the end — this is a comedy, after all, not a tragedy — and every pair of starry-eyed lovers that could end up together…well, DOES end up together.
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GIRL POWER: Lily Rabe as Rosalind

Lily Rabe positively shines as Rosalind; and David Furr as Orlando — while not quite as luminescent — does fine work, too.  Oliver Platt, as the bedraggled jester Touchstone, seems to be having a whale of a time as he unfailingly displays the comic panache of the born clown, and Stephen Spinella as the Master of Melancholia himself, Jaques, does a terrific job even when he’s NOT waxing eloquent about the Seven Ages of Man.  It’s one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, and Spinella delivers it beautifully.

DON'T I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE?: David Furr and Lily Rabe

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In the wrong hands, Shakespeare’s language can be a chore to listen to, but not here — every line is delivered with precision; every speech is crystal clear.
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As for the songs — such a big part of this production — Stratford’s favorite son may have written the lyrics, but Steve Martin (!) wrote the banjo-and-fiddle music, and it’s very entertaining, indeed.
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Or, to put it another way: it’s just one more thing that’s impossible NOT to like about this production of “As You Like It”.
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It closes on June 30th.  Go see it.
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THEATRE REVIEW by Stuart R. Brynien