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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 23
As You Like It is likable, at least
Arts & Entertainment
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As You Like It is likable, at least

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

AS YOU LIKE IT
SEATTLE SHAKESPEARE COMPANY
Through June 24


As You Like It is a Shakespeare play that is not nearly as often produced as his top five. This may be due to the presence of various elements that Shakespeare uses more dexterously in other works: banishment, a woman who hides by dressing as a man, a wise fool, a whole lot of forest scenes, etc. Accordingly, the current production by Seattle Shakespeare Company, while generally solid and well-played, is not terribly exciting.

The banishment happens before the start of this play. Duke Senior and his supporters are banished to the forest in a successful coup by his younger brother, Duke Frederick (Ray Gonzalez), who allows his young niece, Rosalind (Hana Lass) to remain at court as a companion to his daughter, Celia (Rebecca Olson). But as Rosalind gets older, Frederick becomes jealous of her popularity and banishes her as well. However, his order causes such distress to his daughter that she leaves with Rosalind, taking both her and court jester Touchstone (Darragh Kennan) to the forest. For some reason, it's imperative that Rosalind disguise herself, but not Celia. Yet they both take new names.

Concurrently, another noble younger brother, Orlando (Nathan Graham Smith), is banished to the same woods just after meeting and instantly falling in love with Rosalind. Even when Rosalind/Ganymede meets her own father and her love Orlando in the woods, she doesn't feel safe enough to reveal herself. Well, at least that is what we're supposed to believe.

The production starts so darkly and so somberly that it feels like one of Shakespeare's tragedies. This temperate and forbidding beginning shadows the entire production, where scene changes are done with a ceremony that feels serious. The inherent fun of the play takes far too long to become apparent, and then never quite takes off, despite some very funny scenes with bit players Hannah Mootz, Donna Wood, and David Brown-King.

Lass and Olson are enchanting as the cousins. Graham Smith displays a welcome adeptness in a return to Seattle stages. Kennan does an outstanding job as the fool, and David Pichette plays the melancholy Jacques with aplomb. However, since the fun of the play is muted, Pichette's melancholy is not overcome.

Some lovely music is provided by Jon Lutyens as composed by Sarah McGuinn, but unfortunately it slows the production down, contributing to its approximately three-hour length. With the production being a measured rhythm to begin with, adding pretty but slow music didn't help pick up the mood.

Overall, the production pleased and didn't offend. For more information, go to www.seattleshakespeare.org or call (206) 733-8222.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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