“AS YOU LIKE IT” Takes Center Stage
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
After all the rain outs it was a perfect evening when we attended Shakespeare on the Sound’s “As You Like It” at Norwalk’s Pickney Park on June 19th. Even the full moon cooperated brightly on cue. The theatre in the round’s grassy setting set the natural scene. The central, wooden platform designed by Brian Prather focused attention on the actors and the park’s ancient trees stimulated our imagination of Arden forest -- a sanctuary where the play’s central characters wander, meet, reconcile their differences, and fall in love.
This is one of Shakespeare’s more convoluted, long-winded comedies and like his fairytale, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” several sets of lovers woo, win and finally marry -- and that’s all you really need to know. Director Claire Kelly, who has been with this group for the past three years, lightens up the production by making sure there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. Without detracting from the play, adults in the audience are recruited to interact with the actors and appointed children eagerly schlep the travelers’ luggage up the park’s steepest hillside and through the woods.
Shakespeare must have been greatly influenced by Queen Elizabeth, one of England’s most powerful rulers, because many of his plays feature strong women. Although the play begins slowly, it picks up momentum during the Second Act when Katie Wieland, who plays “Rosalind,” disguises herself as a man and wanders through the woods with her entourage. She actually looks and acts better in men’s clothing as she meets up with her handsome, love interest, co-star “Orlando” (Chris Chafari) and gives him “man to man” tips on how to make love. Chafari is an equally believable actor and the pair play-off each other quite nicely.
Other outstanding cast members are Medina Senchore “Celia,” and David Gautschy who is the clowning “Touchstone.” Tom Pecinka, as “Jacques” has one of the most significant soliloquies in Shakespeare’s repertory and it uses his whole body when reciting the profound “All the World’s A Stage and all the men and women merely players...”
This is a professional production. Some of the most melodious music you will ever hear set to Shakespeare’s lyrics, is composed by Brien Feinstein. Performed in modern dress, the play takes place somewhere in the Caribbean where the actors also dance, sing, and strum Calypso music.
Plays to June 30
Free: Bring chairs, blankets and sweaters
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” June/2013