The thought of reading and studying Shakespeare strikes fear in
the heart of many a high school student (and their parents.) But we
forget what a funny guy Shakespeare was. His comedies are filled
with fantasy, word play and physical humor and in the right actors'
hands, his plays feel very much like familiar sitcoms.
This is the case with Chicago Shakespeare Theater's rich,
marvelously acted production of "As You Like It."
Set in both the Royal Court and the Forest of Arden, "As You Like
It" follows the dynamic Rosalind as she discovers the power of
first love. It's a tale of loyalty, friendship and, of course,
mistaken identity when she masquerades as a young man tutoring her
true love Orlando on the rules of courtship. There are love
stories aplenty as Shakespeare fills the play with romantic odes,
lusty relationships and one-sided affairs that all manage to work
out in the end.
The performances are what really make this production sing. Kate
Fry is simply amazing as Rosalind. Her energy, spirit and
fast-paced delivery keep the audience rooting for her throughout.
The scenes between her and her cousin Celia, played with charm and
wit by Chaon Cross, are the best parts of the show. Teenage
girls will easily identify with the intimacy and steadfast loyalty
of their friendship.
Phillip James Brannon is also brilliant as the clownish
Touchstone. His hip, and very cool interpretation of the character
really speaks to a modern sensibility without departing from
"As You Like It" contains some of Shakespeare's most famous
passages, including the "All the world's a stage" speech.
Because the cast handles his language so nimbly, even audience
members unfamiliar with the text and story will understand the
author's message, his humor and his brilliance.
The show runs about 2 hours and 40 minutes with one
intermission. If you think that's a little too much Shakespeare for
you and your children, consider CST's "Short Shakespeare!" program
which will present a 75-minute abridged version of "Macbeth" every
Saturday morning at 11 a.m., January 22nd through March
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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