Sunday, January 25, 2015

reviews - AS YOU LIKE IT - Southwest Shakespeare Company

Ross Hellwig and Alison Sell
For more information on this production, that runs through January 31st, click here.

"The sweet intoxication of love is at the heart of Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It. Southwest Shakespeare Company's current production of the play is a swift moving, fun-filled romp anchored by a memorable performance by Allison Sell as the passionate Rosalind.  One of Shakespeare's most accessible comedies, As You Like It is the story of a series of lovers, most notably Rosalind and Orlando, who fall in love at first site but then find themselves just as quickly separated. While the plot is slightly contrived and somewhat convoluted, it is easy to follow and the contrivances only add to the fun of the play in how it displays, and somewhat mocks, the folly of love. Director David Vining has updated the time period, setting it in the American Colonies of 1700. The Puritan time frame works well in how the oppression of the period mirrors the characters' escape into the freedom of the forest. Vining sets a nice tone throughout, with the entire cast delivering well thought out, humorous portrayals and the action moving fairly swiftly in the two hour production.    Allison Sell is a breath of fresh air as Rosalind. She brings an exuberance to the part that makes the audience instantly fall in love with her, just as Orlando does. an enjoyable production of a classic comedy. With superb performances all around, it is a perfect complement with SSC's exceptional King Lear." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"With a plot involving two pairs of feuding brothers and (count 'em) four sets of lovers, Like It has been moved to colonial America, with the characters fluttering about in Puritan habits. This conceit is a poor fit for the classic pastoral comedy, which juxtaposes the decorum and indulgence of courtly life with the rustic joys of the country, because no such dichotomy exists in early New England society — unless, of course, one wanted to turn Shakespeare's shepherds into Native Americans, which we all can agree would be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Happily, the setting fades away once the action moves from the court to the Forest of Arden, and we are left to enjoy Shakespeare's romp unencumbered by anachronistic dissonance. There's the famous "All the world's a stage" speech by the melancholic philosopher Jaques (Rick Davis), of course, and the bawdy romance between the fast-talking jester Touchstone (William Wilson) and the ditzy goatherd Audrey (Letson — also "Lear's" Goneril). It's all great fun, especially the irresistible performance of Allison Sell" -Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

Photo: Mark Gluckman/ Southwest Shakespeare Company

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