As You Like It Review - "All the World's a Stage"

Shakespeare comes to Antaeus in the pastoral comedy, AS YOU LIKE IT. Written around 1599, this is a popular play which has been adapted to radio, film, and musical theatre over the centuries. In fact, AS YOU LIKE IT may have been the first play ever broadcast on radio (1922), and it was Sir Laurence Olivier’s first Shakespeare film (1936). AS YOU LIKE IT is also Shakespeare’s most musical piece, containing four songs integrated right into the action.

Elyse Mirto as Audrey and Adam J. Smith as Touchstone - Photo by Daniel G. Lam Photography

As always, AS YOU LIKE IT was double cast. The reviewed performance was by the Acorns. Duke Frederick (John DeMita) has usurped the dukedom from his exiled older brother, Duke Senior (Bernard K. Addison) – but he has allowed Senior’s daughter Rosalind (Julia Davis) to remain due to her close friendship with his only daughter Celia (Abigail Marks). When Rosalind and Orlando (Daisuke Tsuji) meet during a wrestling match, it’s love at first sight. Then Frederick decides to banish Rosalind, who flees his court - disguised as a man - with her cousin Celia, now a poor, simple woman. They decide to escape into the Forest of Arden – which just happens to be where Senior and his entourage have settled. When Orlando also flees – you guessed it – it also happens to be into the Forest of Arden.

Julia Davis as Rosalind and Daisuke Tsuji as Orlando - Photo by Daniel G. Lam Photography

This is a tale of mistaken identities, multiple disguises, and love in bloom from every bush.  It is also the story of Jaques (Tony Amendola), an exiled melancholy lord who is always observing and arguing against the hardships of life in the country, court jester Touchstone (Adam J. Smith), who has run away with Rosalind and Celia, and Oliver (Daniel Dorr), a frustrated brother struggling to maintain control of Orlando. Soon almost the entire cast (including shepherds and rustic country folk) find themselves in Arden forest. The place to be as the account heats up.

Tony Amendola as Jaques - Photo by Daniel G. Lam Photography

Shakespeare’s plays are bound to be hits wherever they are performed, and the Antaeus Theatre Company pays homage to this famed playwright with enthusiasm and skill. Special kudos to Tony Amendola, a doleful guy who happens to get some of Shakespeare’s best lines, and Abigail Marks, demonstrating a genuine comedic gift. Despite the good to excellent performances by the cast, AS YOU LIKE IT somehow misses the target. Perhaps, as some critics have opined, this is not Shakespeare’s best work – or perhaps the gears don’t quite fit together in this production. Director Rob Clare obviously had a view of what he was aiming for – but somehow the total effect didn’t quite reach that goal. A. Jeffrey Schoenberg’s motley costumes don’t quite fit either and seem to be a collection of Salvation Army left-overs representing neither the past nor the present.

Julia Davis - Photo by Daniel G. Lam Photography

Francois-Pierre Couture’s scenic design fills the bill – but the stage sometimes feels almost too spacious for the action. Leigh Allen’s lighting contributes a great deal to the overall ambiance as cunning shadows swirl across the walls. Peter Bayne’s sound design and talented singers spotlight Shakespeare’s musical moments and add a soupcon of “Renaissance” to the show. Shakespeare aficionados should love this production. After all, Shakespeare never grows old.

Tim Halligan and Daisuke Tsuji - Photo by Daniel G. Lam Photography

AS YOU LIKE IT runs through September 10, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center is located at 110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205. Tickets are $30 (Thursdays and Fridays) and $34 (Saturdays and Sundays). For information and reservations, call 818-506-1983 or go online.       

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