Charles Stanley's production of
Shakespeare's As You Like It sets the comedy in a New
Orleans surrounded by bayous of free love and back-to-nature
rapture. It comes alive with '60s exuberance with the
company reciting Shakespeare in southern dialect. It
does provide a welcome relief to star-studded, serious
Shakespeare in a theater. Best of all: It's free.
The opening scene makes it clear
that this As You Like It is also freely adapted and
creatively cast. Orlando, played with appealing realism
by Jeffrey Ricketts, is lamenting his woes to Adam. Adam
is played by a dog, a thin Scottish deerhound named Piper, who
seems to pant on cue. When later called upon to faint
from hunger and be carried by Orlando into the Forest of
Arden, Adam seems the perfect caricature of the emaciated
In the following scene, the
wrestling math (read " 'rasslin") between Orlando and Charles,
the court wrestler, is staged with all the melodrama of a
World Wrestling Federation bout. Orlando vanquishes his
nemesis with the dreaded "finger-pull" hold, and soon flees
for the sanctuary of the Forest of Arden.
Costumed in flowery prints, flag
T-shirts and flowing garments, the actors succeed in making
the Elizabethan meter and prose seem a natural part of the
laid-back lifestyle of rural Louisiana in the late '60s.
Renée Bucciarelli portrays Rosalind with intelligence and
femininity, while Mary Boyher, clad and corseted in black
leather, makes a hard-edged, asexual Jaques, delivering the
Seven Ages of Man speech with quivering emotionality.
Duke Senior is played by Brian Kosnik as one far-out dude who
has found Nirvana in the Forest, and Peter McCabe as
Touchstone humorously labors to make the customs of the court
seem logical in the woods.
The play ends with happy
marriages overseen by Hymen, a weird hybrid of Indian
mysticism and New Age transcendentalism. As the stage
fills with the ecstatic musical strains of a '60s-style
wedding, it's clear that the Kings County Shakespeare Company
has been wholly successful in bringing a superior production
of Shakespeare to the people of Brooklyn.
New York Newsday