Puppy-love pentameter

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Tim Errickson
Boomerang Theatre Company at Theatre 22
Equity showcase (through September 24)
Review by David Mackler

Somewhere along the line it was decided to cast character actors in the leads of the Boomerang Theatre Company's production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. And this was exactly the right decision because Tory Schaefer and Nikki Wooster were exactly the right actors to give intelligence, humor, and humanity to Orlando and Rosalind, those slightly befuddled, desperately in-love romantics. His eager longing and her sureness as both Rosalind and Ganymede were the play's solid core. Yeah, sure, there're court intrigue, banishments, and betrayals, but the glory is in watching these two lovers-to-be. And since much of the rest of the cast was up to their level, this was a very well-spoken and -acted production.

Setting the play in an indeterminate time and place (jeans were as prevalent as poofy shirts), director Tim Errickson gave it a very quick pace, but it was never rushed. And he aided the actors by providing (or encouraging) numerous touches, the kind that show the difference between reciting and acting. Perhaps the politics of the court scenes were glossed over, but that was no problem because the best of the play is set in the Forest of Arden anyway. And since Schaefer and Wooster had established beyond any shadow of doubt their rightness for each other, the main pleasure was seeing how it all would come out.

There was very little darkness to this production, even beyond the fact that As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's comic-comedies, not one of the dark-comedies. Even melancholy Jaques (Patrick Melville) was played more as a pompous speechifier than grumpy old man. Touchstone (John Socas) had a touch of the post-modern to him, until he became potty over Audrey, played as a Valley girl by the very funny Ola Creston, who showed that Shakespearean verse could be punctuated with chewing gum. Kathleen O'Clock was good as Rosalind's supportive cousin Celia, although it was clear she fell for Orlando's brother Oliver (Owen Stadele) more for his looks than his character, which got lost in a jumble of awkward line readings. Carmela Davis was delightful as a strong-willed Phebe, although it was easy to see why she would have preferred Wooster as Ganymede to Sylvius (Frank Kuzler), who followed her around doe-eyed.

As LeBeau, Michael Healey was a hoot, somehow managing to deliver good Shakespeare with a French accent. Kurt Roinestad was a touching and thoughtful Adam, Orlando's family retainer, and his shepherd Corin had a fun twinkle in his eye. John Heist's simpleminded William outshone his other roles, and Victor TreviÒo's rightful Duke was more realized than his usurper Duke. But that fit right into the overall feeling of the production - with so much love in the air, who wants to be around a spoilsport?

In this black box of a theater, the set design of Kristin Costa consisted mostly of trees and plants brought in one at a time by the characters. (Good, unobtrusive lighting by Wendy Range.) Although far from lush, the greenery against the black background gave Arden just the right touch of fairy dust. With the end of the play, and four couples paired off and wed, it's a nice thought that this is where they'll spend the rest of their days. [In rotating rep. with Arms and the Man and The Three Sisters - Ed.]
Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 David Mackler