As You Like It, But … I Didn’t Get It

After seeing two plays at the Shakespeare Theater this season, one thing is clear:  the cast is adept at changing costumes – quickly.  There were the multiple costume, wig and prop changes in The Alchemist, now a stroll through Americana in As You Like It.

On a nasty, rainy night, the Harman Theater was packed for Opening Night.  Michael Kahn was glad handing patrons, and people were excited.

The play opened with a silent movie sequence, with subtitles flashing up on the screen.  Amusing for the overacting.  Creative.  A grabber.  People were sitting up.  How was this going to work?

Next, the curtain opened and it was more or less a classic set — Rosiland and Celia in nightgowns, the men in cloaks trailing the Duke.  The set itself was gray and textured.  The servants and Touchstone looking very servant and clown-like.

Then a scene of ships – the Mayflower? – and a landing in New Amsterdam.  Okay, so they’re in Manhattan?  From here on, it was a hodge-podge of sets and costumes, some more amusing than others.  Rosiland and Orlando wooing and flirting, doubting and testing throughout so many ages in America.

There was George Washington and his band at Valley Forge (funny, but weird), Scarlett O’Hara before the Civil War and after (amusing for the contrasts), the Wild West (not my favorite), wildcatting oil men (boring, snore …), then all wrapping up in a 1930’s speakeasy.  Interesting at points, but I was glad when the cast gathered for the traditional final song and dance in Shakespeare’s comedies.

The post-opening reception was at Rosa Mexicano, right next door.  Normally a must, but after so much head spinning set, costumer and accent changes on a rainy night, we declined.  After all, if some one asked how we liked the play, what could I say?

The costumes sure were impressive.

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