In director Michael Ellis-Tolaydo’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy, Rosalind (first year Emma Kaufman), the daughter of the exiled Duchess (senior Jameylyn Warren), is banished by her evil aunt Lady Frederick (senior Briana Manente).
With the help of her cousin Celia (sophomore Katie Henry) and the court fool Touchstone (senior Jess O’Rear), Rosalind disguises herself as a boy named Ganymede to pursue her love, Orlando (junior Nick Huber).
Kaufman and Henry had excellent chemistry together and were believable as co-conspirators in their love schemes. Their comedic timing in their duos was well-timed; Kaufman was especially humorous when trying to convince the love struck Phebe to turn her affections elsewhere.
Huber and Kaufman also worked well together, exploiting much humor in the tensions between Orlando and “Ganymede.” Huber endeared himself as the sweet youth in love and it was gratifying to watch him succeed.
Manente was particularly notable as the evil Lady Frederick. Armed with a riding crop and a sour attitude, she commanded physically and emotionally every scene she was in.
Interestingly, the play specifies both Frederick and her sibling as males; in Ellis-Tolaydo’s version both characters were women, a gender-bending move that worked well.
Also impressive was junior Tobias Franzén as the melancholy Jaques. Reciting any of Shakespeare’s famous soliloquies is a hefty task, but Franzen performed “all the world’s a stage” impressively.
He consistently seemed to have an excellent grasp on his lines and delivered them humorously and poignantly.
“The whit and perfect timing, especially that of Jaques’ character, kept me enthralled the entire time,” said senior Kenneth Doutt.
The play also deeply benefitted from O’Rear as Touchstone and sophomore Jemarc-Van Axinto as Silvius, the shepherd in love with Phebe (the shepherdess in love with “Ganymede”).
O’Rear was incredibly funny and employed a puppet for full comedic effect. Axinto also added to the comic relief with a perfectly executed dopey-eyed stare that remained fixed on his love interest throughout most of his time on stage.
The costuming was interesting, though it was mildly successful. Because the costumes were set in the 1960s, they were able to distinguish among the classes and the different societal groups. However, it didn’t add that much to the overall performance. Additionally, the use of “Yellow Submarine” was odd and seemed to force the actors to break character, as well as the fourth wall.
Audience interaction, which does not normally spring to mind when discussing Shakespeare, was implemented in the play, which can either provoke more laughs from the audience or just make people feel uncomfortable.
Eye contact was made, strolling within the audience bleachers was involved, and people were called out as “representing” the different stages of age within the “all the world’s a stage” monologue.
Overall, though, “As You Like It” was an energetic and fun performance filled with laughs. The cast worked very well together, and all the parts, including the set and the lighting, effectively created a comedic atmosphere.
Freshman Kaleigh O’Neill stated, “I really enjoyed the play. The actors did a great job of bringing Shakespeare to life and I’m really glad I went!”