Review: ‘As You Like It’ by Marin Shakespeare Company (***1/2)

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: ****1/2)

This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

(“As You Like It” plays at the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre at Dominican University in San Rafael from July 12 through August 10, 2014).

Tired of the rat race? Dream of getting back to the land? Longing for the simplicity of the farm? Get ye posthaste to The Forest of Arden (aka Forest Meadows Amphitheatre at Dominican University in San Rafael) and you will find things exactly “As You Like It”.

Director Robert Currier offers up a lovingly polished rendering of Shakespeare’s enchanting pastoral, clearly told, laced with laughter and studded with comedic gems, musical interludes, and philosophical fancy.

Duke Frederick has been usurped by his brother, the nasty Duke Senior, and has flown with his court to the Forest of Arden where they live among the shepherds in a charmed exile, relishing the country life. Young Orlando Rowland is also in exile and finds his way to the same Forest, as does Duke Frederick’s daughter Rosalind, following her father into the woods. What follows is a series of love affairs, comically and gently portrayed: Orlando and Rosalind (both as herself and disguised as a young man), the court fool Touchstone and Audrey, a goatherd, Jacques and the Spirit of Melancholy, the Duke and the Forest itself, the shepherd Silvius and the shepherdess Audrey. Cut off from civilization and its attendant worries, the characters are free to roam wistfully in the fields of love. As it is Shakespeare, all of this gentle comedy is suffused with whimsy, and an undertone of melancholy which makes the whole concoction indescribably sweet.

as Rosalind and as Orlando in Marin Shakespeare Company's productin of "As You Like It". Photo Credit: Steven Underwood.
Elena Wright as Rosalind and Teddy Spencer as Orlando in Marin Shakespeare Company’s production of “As You Like It”. Photo Credit: Steven Underwood.

Does all of this sound complex? In the hands of this expert cast, it is anything but. Director Currier has coached them to be light and airy, full of laughter, even slapstick, carefully balanced with a dose of reality. Who could resist  falling in love with Elena Wright’s Rosalind? She is the very essence of wit and grace, among Shakespeare’s most successful female characters. Certainly not Terry Spencer’s goofy but lovable Orlando, who wanders the forest carving her name into the bark of trees.

A particular treasure of this production is Glenn Havlan as Jacques. His persuasive declaration of his desire to be a fool in motley is followed up by his demonstration of his fooling skills in one of Shakespeare’s most famous set pieces (the “Ages of Man” speech that begins, “All the world’s a stage….). In Havlan’s hands, it is entirely fresh, deeply rooted in Jacques’ character and anything but stale. This is lovely work.

Elena Wright as Rosalind, Adam Roy as Touchstone and  Livia Demarchi as Celia in Marin Theatre Company's "As You Like It". Photo Credit: Eric Chazankin.
Elena Wright as Rosalind, Adam Roy as Touchstone and Livia Demarchi as Celia in Marin Theatre Company’s “As You Like It”. Photo Credit: Eric Chazankin.

The slapstick is provided by Luisa Frasconi as Phebe the heartless shepherdess and Alexander Lenarsky as Silvius, her spurned lover. Lenarsky is a pathetic riot of dismay as he keeps coming back for more when Phebe slaps him down again and again. Also quite funny is Adam Roy as the clown Touchstone (who inspires Jacques). Roy invests Touchstone with an eccentric personality, physical grace and a wicked wit that is altogether fun to watch.

At their best, the Marin Shakespeare Company offers some of the finest Shakespearean performance around. With “As You Like It”, they prove once again just how good they can be.

For further information, click here.

Special note: Thanks to a substantial anonymous donation, Marin Shakespeare Company is offering the entire run of this play on a pay “As You Like It” basis. If you want to go, but can’t justify the expense, grab some friends and some kids and a picnic and head on out, just give what you can. 


“As You Like It” by William Shakespeare, presented by Marin Shakespeare Company. Director: Rubert Currier. Costumes: Tammy Berlin. Fight Director: Richard Pallaziol. Lighting: Maxx Zurzunski. Properties: Joel Eis. Set: Jackson Currier. Sound: Billie Cox. 

Duke Senior/Duke Frederick: Scott Coopwood. Celia: Livia Demarchi. Rosalind: Elena Wright. Jacques: Glenn Havlan. Amiens: Sean Mirkovich. Le Beau: Allen Darby. Touchstone: Adam Roy. Charles: Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly. Oliver: Davern Wright. Orlando: Teddy Spencer. The Second son of Old Sir Rowland: Allen Darby. Adam: Kit Grimm. Attendants: Nathan Levy, Javier Pritchard. Court Lady: Hannah Finn. Lords: Derek Apperson, Allen Darby, Sam Rubin, Gray Schierholt. Sir Oliver Martext: Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly. Corin: Julian Lopez-Morillas. Silvius: Alexander Lenarsky. William: Braedyn Youngberg. Phebe: Luisa Frasconi. Audrey: Val Garrahan. Forest Wenches: Hannah Finn, Rachel Newman, Rebecca Rudy.


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