“As You Like It”
Adaptation by Judith Allen
Director: Judith Allen
Main Cast: Adam Beh (Orlando de Boys), Sydney Parks (Rosalind/Ganymede), Brenna A. Freestone (Celia/Aliena) L. Michael Scovel (Duke Frederick and various characters), Matthew G. Smith (Oliver de Boys), Kurt Brighton (Amiens, a musician)
Where: Fort Collins Lincoln Center, 417 West Magnolia St., (970) 221-6735
When: Now through Nov. 29, Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 – adult $15 – student/senior $13 – matinee all ages
One thing I love about Shakespearean plays is they make wonderful adaptations. Most of them have good, solid plots and strong characters. Director Judith Allen must think so, too, because she put together a bouncy, fresh and clever redux of the classic romantic comedy of errors – As You Like It – set in the late 1960s.
The opening scene is a political rally where the younger Duke Frederick announces he has banished his brother Duke Senior, and if Senior returns from exile, there will be war. There are protesters, military police, confusion and violence at the news. Rosalind, the banished duke’s daughter and her cousin Celia (Frederick’s daughter) plan to follow Duke Senior into exile disguised as a young man Ganymede and his sister Aliena. Before they leave, however, Rosaline meets a young activist – Orlando – and it is love at first sight.
Soon Orlando is thrown into exile for his actions against Duke Frederick and finds a new life in a hippie community in the Forest of Arden. He meets musicians, poets, dancers, farmers, and of course Ganymede (Rosalind). As they become friends, Rosalind finds out what Orlando is really like, and whether his love for her is true. Most of the story centers around the idea of love – is it passionate poetry? Or is it something more enduring and difficult?
Each character comes to Arden, and most find refuge and renewal in the idyllic forest community. Orlando’s brother, who was once a “stuffed shirt” also finds true love with Celia (Aliena), and the finale of the play, as in the traditional version, is a grand wedding where everyone’s true identities and feelings are revealed.
There is never a dull moment. The dialog is traditional Shakespearean language, with an occasional paraphrase. Never mind the thees and thous however – the dialog is all in the delivery. Adam Beh as the lovesick Orlando de Boys, Sydney Parks as the sharp and witty Rosalind (Ganymede) and Brenna A. Freestone as Celia, all give the script the full expression and gestures it needs to hit home with the audience.
What gives this production its lively action are the musical interludes of the most pungent of the 60s protest songs, which are filled with idealism, anger and searching for a better life. The audience is welcome, and encouraged to sing along with old favorites or play “air bongo” as you like. Relax and get into it – it’s worth the trip.