Shakespeare in the rough

The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It

By Don Nigro
Directed by Christopher Thomasson
Oberon Theatre
Pelican Studio Theatre
750 Eighth Ave. Suite 601 (212/560-2241)
Equity showcase (closes May 1)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It follows a troupe of misfits who attempt to put on As You Like It. What follows is a comedy of errors of sorts as the cast try to remember their lines, comment on the action of the play, and discuss their own personal problems and tensions. The show has its comical moments and at the end tries to make a deeper moral, but overall fails to realize its potential.

The show began with the cast entering preparing to do the show. They actually performed for the audience, although to the characters no one has shown up. As they present an extremely abridged version of As You Like It, their lives are an open book. There is an insane one, a shy one, a bitchy one, a lovestruck one, a rejected one, a newly found diva, and the ringleader who keeps them all together.

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's typical comedies, where lovers have to overcome external or parental conflicts to finally realize and reach the happy ending. Although the abridged version cuts most of the script, there is still enough to see the basic plot of four love couples (played by only four players). However, the Curate's show is funnier and more poignant when not playing As You Like It. There are many funny moments created by the amateurs screwing up lines, questioning motivations, and digressing into rants about each other and life in general.

The cast was very good. They were all adept in the Shakespearean verse while being able to portray amateur actors at the same time. The two standouts were Christopher Yeatts and Candice Holdorf. Yeatts was especially funny as William, the timid lover. His facial expressions illustrated his character's stupidity with charm. As the insane Rosalind, Holdorf was not only hilarious but sweet and also musical. Always in character, her delusional, informative fixations and commentary were among the highlights of the show. Her speech at the end was delivered with resolute conviction, too.

Christopher Thomasson's direction kept the show moving nicely. The pace and energy were consistent, as well. The staging made good use of the intimate space, spreading out the action as much as possible. Technically (costumes, sets, lights) the show was solid. The really cute backdrop representing the Forest of Arden and some campy props added some silly sight gags.

The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It has its moments and highlights. However, as a whole it is a little long, and at times a little dull. This is an example of a play with a good concept, whose writing was decent but not brilliant.

Box Score:

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

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Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh