As You Like It, San Diego

Written by:
Josh Baxt
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‘As You Like It’

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Adrian Noble
The Old Globe Theatre, San Diego
June 10 – Sept. 30, 2012

What kinds of love are there? There’s true love, the thing we’re all after and Shakespeare spent a career mocking. There’s convenient love — love the one you’re with. Unrequited love, naturally. Playing through September at The Old Globe, “As You Like It,” delves into these and other forms — providing the insights you expect from Shakespeare in a nicely rounded production.

In the play, the Duke (Robert Pescovitz) is banished by his brother Frederick (Happy Anderson) and goes to live in the woods with his merry followers. They are the happiest exiles on Earth. Frederick keeps the Duke’s daughter Rosalind (Dana Green) around to amuse his daughter Celia (Vivia Font). The women are closer than sisters and enjoy the odd arrangement until Frederick has a change of heart and they too venture into the woods.

Meanwhile, Orlando (Dan Amboyer) is fed up with his tyrannical older brother Oliver (Jay Whittaker) and leaves for — the woods. Everyone of importance is now in the forest.

Before the sylvan sojourn, Rosalind and Orlando happened to meet and fall suddenly in love. However, Rosalind has chosen to dress as a man. When she encounters Orlando in the woods, in the guise of the boy Ganymede, she/he schools him on how best to court Rosalind.

Other comedies, “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Much Ado About Nothing” for example, pit strong men against strong women. Orlando is not so clever. Rosalind, however, is quick-witted and agile. Green inhabits the character admirably, taking charge of the last half of the play. Though she lacks a suitable adversary, she displays amiable leadership.

Despite the lack of a strong male counterpoint, Rosalind’s relationship with Celia (and the chemistry between Green and Font) is fun to watch. You would think that being banished is the most fun two young women could possibly have.

In addition to Green and Font, Jacques C. Smith stands out as Jaques, the melancholy nobleman. Indeed, Jaques seems to be the only one who doesn’t think a nice long stay in the forest is supreme fun. Kudos also to Joseph Marcell as Touchstone, the least foolish Fool.

Director Adrian Noble is a veteran of the Shakespeare festival and does not disappoint, milking the laughs for all their worth and accentuating the gender-bending aspects for the contemporary audience. The set is minimal and unobtrusive and the music delightful.

Yes, the plot is ridiculous, the villains unintimidating and the men in general boring, but The Old Globe’s “As You Like It” certainly brings the fun. And what more could you want on a cool summer evening in San Diego?

Correction: This review has been updated from an earlier version to correct the name of the actor who plays Jaques. He is Jacques C. Smith.

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