Regional Reviews: San Diego
This season's offerings in the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre are As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet, both love stories that are set against family quarrels and clan rivalries. Director Jessica Stone has set As You Like It in the 17th century, and her the work of her designers, particularly Tobin Ost's scenic design, which features a large-scale landscape painting, and David Israel Reynoso's costumes reflect the styles of the period. The large outdoor stage is tricked out with posts that eventually form the Forest of Arden, to which the main characters escape after they are banished.
Among those banned is Rosalind (Meredith Garretson), who adopts the guise and name of a man for the very practical reason of anticipating an easier time traveling in the countryside. Her cousin Celia (Nikki Massoud) accompanies her. They come searching for Orlando (Jon Orsini), who was banned after he fell in love with Rosalind.
In the forest are a motley and mostly merry band of characters whose love lives and yearnings provide the basis for the comedic foolery of act two. Act one, however, sets up all of these relationships and Ms. Stone wisely keeps things moving along, even staging short scenes in a space behind Mr. Ost's painting to save time.
Act two presents sets of lovers: Rosalind and Orlando; Celia and, as it turns out, Oliver (Aubrey Deeker Hernandez), Orlando's brother; Touchstone (Vincent Randazzo), a lonely court fool, and Audrey (Yadira Correa), whom he wrests away from William (Jared Van Heel), a shepherd, in order to marry her. And Phoebe (Morgan Taylor), another shepherdess, needs to be dissuaded from falling in love with Rosalind in her male guise so that her ardent suitor Silvius (Mason Conrad) can succeed in his woebegone wooing. As a counterweight, Shakespeare offers the melancholy philosopher Jaques (Mark H. Dold), whose musings include the famous "All the world's a stage" speech.
To Ms. Stone'sand the actors'credit, this panoply of stories proves to be vivid and easily tracked. And the merriment is helped along by Obadiah Eaves' musical settings of the play's many song texts and James Vásquez's celebratory choreography. The obligatory happy ending finds that all's well that ends well, to coin a phrase. And Ms. Garretson, as the plucky Rosalind, gets the last word in one of Shakespeare's most endearing closing speeches.
The Old Globe's As You Like It promises a pleasant evening under the starsand delivers on its promise.
As You Like It, through July 21, 2019, at The Old Globe, Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego CA. Performances nightly, except Monday, at 8pm. Warm jackets and seat cushions (the latter available at concession stands) are advised. Tickets are available by calling 619-234-5623 or by visiting www.theoldglobe.org.
Additional cast members are: Carlos Angel-Barajas, Summer Broyhill, Ramon Burris, Eric Hagen, Joseph Kamal, Leonard Kelly-Young, Bibi Mama, Hallie Peterson, Jersten Seraile, Wenona Truong, Marco Antonio Vega, and Cornell Womack. Additional creative credits include: Stephen Strawbridge, Lighting Design, Sten Severson, Sound Design, Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum, Fight Director, and David Huber, Voice and Text Coach.