The Flatwater Shakespeare Company returns to the airy confines of the refurbished Stables at Wyuka with a production of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “As You Like It.”
Following an often-used concept of updating Shakespearean plays, this Bob Hall-directed piece isn’t shy in such an undertaking. And while other such efforts can be trying and disappointing, Hall’s “As You Like It” is such an olio of styles, time periods and locales as to be both admired for its inventiveness and enjoyed for its sheer entertainment value.
Shakespeare’s play is a romantic comedy, set in an idealistic French pastoral environment with tidbits of social commentary thrown in. Hall’s wry interpretation features elements of 1930s and ’40s France, America’s Depression Era, exaggerated and mangled French accents and footstool goat and sheep, while still maintaining the play’s subtle messages of injustice and differences between city and country life.
Cale T. Yates as the young nobleman Orlando and Megan Higgins as the banished noblewoman Rosalind are the play’s lead characters and produce strong, vibrant performances. Indeed, their efforts are the linchpin that allows the remainder of the cast to whirl around them.
However, it is in the supporting cast that there are wonderful examples of actor bonding to portrayal -- William Bryant as the black-clad, pensive and contemplative Jaques; Emma Gruhl as Rosalind’s cousin Celia; Matt Cummins and Petrea Whittier as the rustic Silvius and Phebe; Tom Crew as the fool Touchstone; Paul Pearson as the curmudgeon Adam; Andy Dillehay as the garish Le Beau; and Richard Imig as the shepherd Corin.
Rich Sibley as both the malevolent Duke Frederick and the Duke’s banished brother demonstrates commendable concentration and ability to move between the two distinct characterizations.
The production also displays numerous examples of razor-sharp repartee between pairs of actors, most notably Orlando and Rosalind (when she is in a male guise), Orlando and Jaques, and Jaques and Touchstone.
A delicious production, Flatwater’s “As You Like It” is fun and irreverent, but still preserves Shakespeare’s dialogue and intent.