There’s Nothing Not To Like In As You Like It
Eye Arts Scrutinizer
After a seven-year drought, Shakespeare returns to Redwood Park in a fun and frolicsome production of As You Like It.
One of Shakespeare’s more feminist plays, As You Like It features a heroine in male drag, Rosalind/Ganymede (ably played by Alyssa Rampel). Banished from the court of the Duke who usurped her father, Rosalind and her cousin Celia (a very funny Lillian Damron clearly channelling Paris Hilton) travel in disguise to the Forest of Ardennes, where, after a suitable amount of Shakespearian shenanigans, they find shelter, justice and love.
The opening night performance started a little after 7 p.m. with a charming musical set by singer-songwriter Chris Parreira, who composed music for both plays. Parreira also provides guitar accompaniment to Amiens’ (played by an enchanting Chyna Leigh) songs throughout the play, as well as having a line or two.
Kenneth Wrigley, an aptly handsome Orlando, opens the play. Wrigley is well-suited to the role; he clearly understands and delivers every line with conviction (his dialogue with Jacques is especially funny), and his physical comedic timing is spot on, especially in a wrestling scene with Charles the Wrestler (Evan Needham) or when expressing frustration during his courtship with Rosalind.
Also notable among the cast were Charlie Heinberg as a Jacques less melancholy than expected, but still extremely funny, Adrienne Flintel as a suitably brittle and antic Touchstone the fool, Tyler Eagerer as Oliver (whose transformation from villain to lover is surprisingly convincing), Ray Waldo as the feckless Duke Senior and Janet Waddell as the pathetic yet crafty servant Adam. Every member of the cast, however, deserves recognition for their contributions to what is clearly an ensemble effort.
The set design and set changes are simple and use the redwood forest backdrop effectlively. The lighting adapted unobtrusively as the sun set. Costuming and makeup evoked both the old and the new, and fit in well with the style of the production.
The premiere was marred by some opening night jitters, some obvious nervousness and forgotten lines. All of this resolved itself during the intermission (perhaps the earthquake loosened things up!), after which a much more relaxed cast clearly enjoyed themselves.
Staged by SkyClad Theater with the assistance of Ink People, the City of Arcata Recreation Division and North Coast Repertory Theatre, As You Like It alternates with Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song until September 1.
Tickets are $10 and are available at City of Arcata Parks and Recreation office at City Hall (707) 822-7091 or by visiting playsinthepark.org.