by Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman
It’s no secret that Shakespeare’s plays can be intimidating for many people. As an English major, I myself often have a hard time understanding Elizabethan English, not to mention the double entendres and wordplays. I recently attended a performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the New Victory Theater and happily sighed a sigh of relief – I was able to understand a Shakespeare play! (Read more after the jump)
The plot of As You Like It has all of the elements of a Shakesperean comedy: mistaken identity, young lovers who must overcome obstacles and a happy ending, such as a wedding (or four, in this case). Banished from her palace, Rosalind flees to the forest of Arden with her cousin and the court jester. She disguises herself as a shepherd boy and decides to find her father who has been overthrown by his brother and who now lives in the forest. There, she encounters Orlando, a young man with whom she is in love and stays in her disguise, giving him advice on love. Orlando himself is fleeing from his brother, Oliver but after he saves his life when he is attacked by a snake, things turn around for him and everyone rejoices in a happy ending.
The director (Dan Rothenberg) seems to have made it a point to make the play down-to-earth and accessible to everyone, while staying true to the original script. Whether it was the delivery of the jokes, the endearing characters wearing heads of animals wandering about the forest or the general whimsical atmosphere, As You Like It is amusing and lighthearted.As you can see in the photos, the wardrobe was inspired by the jazz-age era. The songs, beautifully sung by Amiens (Noah Putterman) were appropriately Shakesperean, although being that the cast was dressed in jazz-age garb, it would have been nice if director threw in some songs from the era such as “In the Mood” or even a little ragtime. Having at least one phonograph on stage at every single scene makes it all the more convenient – just pop in a record and you’re all set. All jokes aside, the live guitar music on stage was a breath of fresh air and culminated in the uplifting finale.
Notable performances were by Christopher Michael McFarland who played a boisterous Touchstone and had a very commanding and memorable stage presence, as well as Chris Thorn who played a somewhat Lennonesque Jaques and who also happened to have some of the best lines, including Shakespeare’s most famous monologue “All the world’s a stage”. Here is a short clip with highlights from the play:
I was not paid for this post. I received tickets.
Contributing Blogger Maytal Wichman is the owner of Mama’s Bites and has also written for The Huffington Post. She has been living in New York City for twelve years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree, but blogging is her true passion. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 6, 3 and a baby) and loves finding great products that make her family’s life easier