If you think Shakespeare is boring and bland, you need to see Georgia Shakespeare’s production of As You Like It. Filled with outstanding performances, the show is hilariously entertaining.
Duke Frederick (Brian Kurlander) has taken over the throne and banishes his brother Duke Senior (Neal A. Ghant), but his niece Rosalind (Courtney Patterson) stays with him as a companion for his own daughter Celia (Molly Coyne). But that is not the on familial strife in the play. Orlando (Travis Smith) is not happy that his brother Oliver (Joe Knezevich) has kept him uneducated and has denied his inheritance.
At the Duke court Orlando challenges a wrestler and wins, winning Rosalind’s affection. When he leaves the court, the Duke banishes Rosalind, and Celia, along with the court fool, go with her. To escape detection, Rosalind and Celia disguise themselves, with Rosalind as a man. While in exile, they encounter Orlando, who longs for Rosalind, but she is not ready to shed her disguise. Rosalind must act as man and unsurprised to learn about Orlando feelings. Somehow, she must learn the depths of his before revealing herself to him.
In one of her strongest performances, Patterson captivates as Rosalind. Whether she acts all giddy like a school girl in love or is taking on masculine characteristics, her comedic timing and charm create one of the most amusing and delightful characters to watch. Not to be outmatched, Coyne provides a worthy companion for her, matching her step by step.
Both Smith and Knezevich make the characters come alive with strong personalities, and Allan Edwards works well as Touchstone the fool. In addition, Chris Kayser briefly takes the stage in too short of a role for the grandeur that he brings.
The performances on stage are not the only highlights of the production. Sydney Roberts has created stunning costumes for the characters. Regal and whimsical, the costumes fit the characters while also looking both Nineteenth Century and futuristic at the same time. They fit in well with Kat Conley’s clever set design, which features a gray theme for the court and a bright, colorful world in the for the forest.
A funny, clever production, As You Like It plays at Georgia Shakespeare through June 29, 2014. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s run time is about two and half hours with an intermission.
– Kenny Norton