Sunday, October 7, 2012

OSF: As You Like It

When it comes to productions of Shakespeare's As You Like It, my Sweetie, the official scorer, has expectations for Rosalind that may be slightly unrealistic. As near as I can understand it, she wants Rosalind to be sort of a combination of Emma Peel, Marie "Slim" Browning, Harriet Vane, Annie Savoy, Wonder Woman, Oprah, Pussy Galore, and Elinor Dashwood. That's going to be hard to pull off, though I'd be happy to give Diana Rigg or Lauren Bacall a shot at the part.

Peter Frechette as Touchstone in OSF's
As You Like It. Photo by Jenny Graham.
Erica Sullivan is no Diana Rigg or even Barbara Feldon, but she did a fine job as Rosalind in this year's Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of As You Like It, directed by Jessica Thebus. Christine Albright was great as Celia, Rosalind's best friend and cousin who is banished from the court by the very crabby and paranoid Duke Frederick, played with menacing zeal by Michael J. Hume. Wayne T. Carr was a wonderful Orlando, steadfast in most of his affairs but on the clueless side when it comes to wooing and writing poetry that he leaves tacked to trees all around Arden Forest.

In addition to Sullivan, who goes undercover as a man, Ganymede, when she and Celia flee to the forest, Thebus flips gender roles on two other characters. Kathryn Meisle had the sort of stage presence Sweetie wants from Rosalind in her portrayal of Jacques, the melancholy philosopher; Kimberly Scott was a riot as Charles the Wrestler, who loses in an upset in a hilarious bout with Orlando early in the play.

One disappointment was missing Howie Seago in the role of Duke Senior. We've seen Seago, a deaf actor, many times over the last several years at OSF and have always enjoyed his performances. He was particularly great as the ghost of Hamlet's father in Hamlet a couple of years ago. It's clever the way Seago's characters use sign language, and others in the play translate. The Duke's role was understudied admirably by Jonathan Haugen. Seago was unable to appear in Henry V later in the week, too. We hope that he is back soon from whatever kept him out last week.

All in all, As You Like It was a pleasant romp in Arden Forest. There's just one week left to see it; the show runs through Oct. 14 on the Elizabethan Stage in Ashland.

No comments: