As You Like It – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Are you an outdoor person? Are you fearless and daring?  Do you like adventure and are you a sucker for a good love story complete with complications?  Is Will Shakespeare one of your favorite playwrights? If you answered yes to all of the above, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the University of Connecticut has the perfect vehicle for your entertainment pleasure, but only until Sunday, April 29 at the Jorgensen Theatre, so hop right on it.

The merry woods of Arden Forest are welcoming you to forgo caution and run straight in for an amazing experience.  No need to pack camping equipment because everything is already there waiting for you to partake.  Here’s the deal.  Two pretty and sweet cousins Rosalind, an outstandingly gifted Alex Campbell, and Celia, a devoted Braley Degenhardt, find themselves unjustly banished to the forest by a mean spirited Duke Frederick (Jonathan Croy), Celia’s unreasonable papa.  He has already sent Rosalind’s father, his brother, off to ‘Arden after taking his estates and unfairly punishing him.  The court jester Touchstone, a versatile Nikolai Fernandez, accompanies them on their quest.

Once in the forest of Arden, Rosalind disguises herself as a lad Ganymede for protection. In that guise, she rediscovers a comely dude Orlando, a manly Nick Nudler, a youth she fell in love with while in Frederick’s court when he fought and defeated the Duke’s favorite fighter Charles (Anthony Giovino).  Not recognizing her, Orlando uses Ganymede  to practice on with his poems of love for Rosalind, which he prints on every tree. Meanwhile Touchstone gets giddy with the shepherd girl Audrey (Gillian Rae Pardi), she of the adorable lambs and goats, the maiden Phebe (Sierra Kane) is actively pursued by Silvius (Sebastian Nagpal) and even Celia finds romance in the unlikely arms of Oliver (Bryan Mittelstadt), Orlando’s not-so-nice brother.
Thanks to director Kristin Wold, the production is stuffed with imaginative and musical touches that make the Bard’s comedy especially memorable. For tickets ($31-35, student $10), call 860-486-2113 or go online at wwwcrt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
In the pastoral pleasure fields of Arden Forest, you’re sure to discover the madness of love in all its varied complexions as traitors and teasers and poets and fools roam freely in merriment and mayhem that is sure to delight.

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