Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
As You Like It
Norristown's Theatre Horizon is presenting its annual Shakespeare in the Park series, once again performed in various public parks throughout suburban Philadelphia. This year's offering is As You Like It, an appropriately light work for a July heat wave. Director Erin Frederick's heavily edited 75-minute production skims the surface of Shakespeare's intricate comedy, and it isn't ideal; it seems a bit aimless early on, and a bit too rushed at the end. But eventually the quick pace adds to the sense of fun, and makes this tale of Rosalind and Orlando, "true lovers [who] run into strange capers," go down smoothly.
The cast, made up of members of the theatre's Young Company of Actors, is somewhat uneven; one actor over-emotes during his big speech, while another needs help with his vocal projection. And while Jim Kelsh is a powerful presence, his strength is undercut by double-casting him, in nearly identical costumes, as both the good Duke Senior and the evil Duke Frederick. (The double-casting is likely to confuse those who haven't seen the play before.) But most of the ensemble finds the right tone, combining good humor with a clear command of the language. And, just as in last summer's Much Ado About Nothing, Emily Rast makes a sparkling leading lady. Her Rosalind explodes with righteous anger when she's banished from the royal court, turns coy when she falls for her true love Orlando (an earnest Andrew Tardif), and becomes playful and flirtatious when she disguises herself as a boy and gives Orlando a lesson in love. There are also sturdy turns from Angie Fennell as Rosalind's supportive cousin and from Connor McAndrews as a helpful jester.
This As You Like It may not help you beat the heat, but it'll add some smiles to your summer night.
As You Like It, presented by Theatre Horizon, plays its final performance on Saturday, July 30, 2011, at 7pm at Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5.00. For more information, visit www.theatrehorizon.org.
As You Like It