‘As You Like It’ is full of laughs, romance and whimsy

by David Dixon

Photo by Henry DiRocco

The Old Globe’s new production of “As You Like It” at the 2012 Shakespeare Festival is a fantastic romantic comedy, which transports spectators to an enchanting winter wonderland. Director Adrian Noble makes the most of a relatively sparse set, while keeping the production of this famous story astonishingly delightful.

Set in a time inspired by 1930s England, Rosalind (Dana Green) is the daughter of Duke Senior (Bob Pescovitz), a respected man who is banished by his evil brother, Duke Frederick (Happy Anderson). After a slapstickfilled wrestling match, Rosalind falls in love with Orlando (Dan Amboyer), the son Frederick’s enemy, Sir Rowland de Bois.

Both Rosalind and Orlando get into dangerous conflicts, leading them to abandon their homes and find refuge in the magical Forest of Arden.

Like his previous interpretation of “The Tempest,” Noble has created an easily accessible piece of entertainment aimed at a mass audience. Instead of an adaptation following the original show to a tee, the humor is quite graspable, with plenty of physical jokes and nuances from the actors resulting in clear verbal wit.

Another artist who plays an integral part in the majestic tone of the play is scenic designer, Ralph Funicello. There isn’t much scenery, but what Funicello achieves is spellbinding. The forest is full of artificial falling snow, which adds to the delightful mood.

In Act II, a cable grid with lights hovers over the entire auditorium adding simple visual magic.

Of course, what is a great Shakespeare play without a terrific ensemble? Everyone plays their part perfectly, from Amboyer’s sympathetic portrayal of Orlando to the cynical Jaques (Jacques C. Smith) who gets to say the most popular line, “All the world’s a stage.”

The most memorable performances come from the two main women, Green as Rosalind and Vivia Font as Celia, Rosalind’s witty and loyal cousin. They play off each other’s wittiness to get the most laughs they possibly can.

Green makes Rosalind a clever heroine whose quick thinking actually pays off. Characters like this usually find temporary solutions that bite them in the butt, but Rosalind never runs into these types of problems because she is one of the wisest people in her world.

While it is not a musical, there are four songs written by the playwright that are integrated throughout “As You Like It.”

Mostly led by the character Amiens (Adam Daveline) and accompanied with original music by Shaun Davey, the upbeat folksy numbers really stand out as opposed to slowing the proceedings down.

In the program, Noble says “As You Like it” is “one of [his] favorite plays.”

His love for Shakespeare’s text is on full display and his unique vision results in another triumphant success for the summer festival.

Tickets and information about “As You Like It” can be found at theoldglobe.org.